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Key Indian Rebel Leader Arrested


A key leader of a powerful rebel movement in northeastern India has been arrested.

Security officials say Arabinda Rajkhowa, chairman of the United Liberation Front of Asom, or ULFA, is in custody. The circumstances that led to Rajkhowa's arrest are unclear.

Police in the northeastern state of Assam say he surrendered near the border with Bangladesh, along with his deputy military chief, a bodyguard and family members. But media reports in India say he was handed over to Indian border guards by authorities in Bangladesh, where he was arrested days ago.

On Friday, Bangladesh Home Minister Sahara Khatoon denied Indian press reports that Rajkhowa's had been arrested in Bangladesh.Rajkhowa's rebel group, ULFA, has been fighting for 20 years to establish an independent homeland for ethnic Assamese people in India's northeast.

The fighting has killed at least 10,000 people, mostly civilians.Rajkhowa's arrest is the latest in a string of top ULFA commanders who have been arrested in recent weeks.He has made peace overtures to New Delhi in recent weeks, sparking speculation his powerful rebel group could be ready to commence a peace dialogue. However, the group's military commander, Paresh Barua opposes negotiations with the government.

Assam's chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, has said his government is willing to start a peace process with the rebels.

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