A COMMUNITY turned out in their thousands yesterday to mourn two best friends killed in a motorway smash.

The towns of Nelson and Brierfield were brought to a standstill as grief-stricken mourners gathered to bid farewell to Mazafer Iqbal, 47 and Mohammed Iqbal, 48.

The men, who had been close friends for more than 30 years, died in the early hours of Saturday, July 26, when travelling home along the eastbound carriageway of the M65 near Burnley, when the Peugeot 106 they were in was involved in a collision with two other cars.

Services were held yesterday before the men were buried side by side at Walton Lane cemetery in Nelson.

Prior to the burials, prayers were said at two separate mosques.

At the huge Jamia Mosque Sultana in Mazafer’s home town of Brierfield more than 600 mourners gathered to hear heartfelt tributes to a man described as ‘popular, kindly and devoted to his family’.

At the end of the service the funeral cortege headed to Markazi Jamia Ghousi Mosque, Clayton Street, Nelson, where a similar number were attending prayers and hearing messages of condolence to Mohammed Iqbal.

He had been brought up and worked in Nelson before moving to Burnley.

The two hearses stood side by side outside for a short period outside the mosque before they led a cortege of dozens of vehicles to their final resting place across town.

Mourners included Shaffaqat Alirazaq, who had travelled from Sheffield to pay tribute to his friend.

He said: “Both men were lovely, kind and family-minded people.

“Mazafer was my brother’s brother-in-law and was an extremely popular and held in the highest affection by all in the community.

“It is testimony to this to see the number of people, hundreds and hundreds, who have come out to pay their respects to these two special personalities.

“Mazafer had four children who he adored and was so proud of.

“He had a great sense of fun and was a strong personality.

“It has been painful to wait so long for this funeral service as it is custom to have funeral by sundown on the day after the death but everyone understands the reasons for the delay after the accident.”

Mohammed Zaman, a retired milkman and taxi driver from Barrowford, said the two men were both a tragic loss to the community.

He added: “I knew both men since they were small children.

“They were so well-respected and would do anything for their friends and family. It is the least we can do to attend here and pay our heartfelt respects to their families.”

At the time of the accident, Mazafer, who was a Liverpool FC supporter, was returning from work at a branch of Chunky Chicken in Skelmersdale, owned by his brother who also owns a restaurant of the same name in Nelson.

Mohammed Iqbal worked at Sleep Sound Beds in Accrington but was known to help out his friend in his takeaway occasionally.

The accident, which happened between junctions 9 and 10 of the M65, has led to further calls for the motorway lights to be switched back on along the entire length of the motorway.