Asia-Pacific

Free Aceh rebel group founder Hasan di Tiro dies

Hasan di Tiro in Banda Aceh, Indonesia (October 2008)
Image caption Mr di Tiro returned to Indonesia from Sweden in 2008

The founder of the separatist rebel movement in the Indonesian province of Aceh has died at the age of 84.

Hasan di Tiro died of a lung infection in hospital in the city of Banda Aceh, a day after he was officially reinstated as an Indonesian citizen.

Mr di Tiro founded the Free Aceh Movement (Gam) in 1976, but fled to Sweden three years later.

Gam signed a peace deal with the government in 2005, ending a 29-year war that killed 15,000 people.

Under the agreement, which followed the devastation of the 2004 Asian tsunami, Gam gave up its weapons and its demand for independence in exchange for partial autonomy in the predominantly Muslim Aceh region.

Mr di Tiro left Indonesia shortly after civil war broke out and ran the movement from self-imposed exile in Sweden, where he became a citizen.

He returned to Indonesia in 2008 and on Wednesday, the government restored his citizenship.

Aceh governor and former Gam rebel Irwandi Yusuf said Mr di Tiro had always wanted to see peace return to Aceh.

"I believe most of his dreams have come true. He witnessed a peaceful and prosperous Aceh of today," he said.

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