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Central & South Asia
India rebel commanders surrender
Leader of United Liberation Front of Asom and his deputy hand themselves in.
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2009 11:45 GMT
India's civilians have been caught in the middle of ULFA's fight against the government [EPA]

The commander of an armed group based in India's northeast has given himself up to the authorities, along with his group's deputy military chief, a body guard and seven family members.

Arabinda Rajkhowa, the chairman of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), and Raju Baruah, the group's deputy military commander, surrendered to Indian security services on Friday.

The men gave themselves up at the Indian border post of Dawki in northeastern Meghalaya state, just steps away from Bangladesh.

Ravi Gandhi, a spokesman for India's border security force, said the fighters were "roaming about on the Indian side when our troopers came in contact with them, leading to their surrender".

Al Jazeera's Prerna Suri said the surrender had been confirmed by officials and would be a major blow to ULFA, which has seen several of its senior commanders arrested in the past year.

After Friday's surrender, the only senior ULFA leader at large is Paresh Baruah, a military commander. Officials believe that he too may soon surrender.

"We have information that Paresh Baruah is currently based on the China-Myanmar border and hope he will accept our standing offer of peace talks," Tarun Gogoi, Assam's chief minister, said.

ULFA has fought for the past two decades for an independent homeland for ethnic Assamese people living in India's northeast.

At least 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have died in Assam state because of violence between government forces and ULFA fighters, as well as with the National Democratic Front of Boroland, another separatist group.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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