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Hundreds of Rebels Lay Down Arms in Northeast India


Militants of the Assam separatist group take photographs of arms displayed during a surrender ceremony in Guahati, India, January 24, 2012.

Militants of the Assam separatist group take photographs of arms displayed during a surrender ceremony in Guahati, India, January 24, 2012.

Hundreds of rebels in northeast India have laid down their arms as part of a cease-fire agreement with the government.

Nearly 700 insurgents wearing fatigues handed over automatic rifles and other weapons during a ceremony Tuesday in Guwahati, the capital of Assam state.

The insurgents are members of nine of the more than 20 ethnic rebel groups that have been fighting for greater autonomy, claiming the government has been exploiting the northeast's rich natural resources. Thousands have been killed in insurgency-related violence.

Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram pledged to those laying down their weapons that they would be welcomed back into society and assured equal rights. He noted that all differences can be settled with dialogue as the government continues to pursue peace agreements with other rebel groups.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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