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Founder of Indonesian Former Rebel Group Dead at 84

Founder of Indonesian rebel movement, Hasan di Tiro (17 Oct 2009 file photo)
Founder of Indonesian rebel movement, Hasan di Tiro (17 Oct 2009 file photo)

The founder of Indonesia's defunct rebel group, the Free Aceh Movement, Hasan di Tiro, has died at the age of 84. His death from lung and heart problems came just over a year after he finally returned home from three-decades in exile.

Di Tiro was living in Sweden in 2008 as 30 years of fighting that between the separatist Free Aceh Movement and the Indonesian government came to an end. Di Toro led the rebel movement while in exile.

Di Tiro was key to the devoutly Muslim province's fight for independence says Teungku Machsalmina, a spokesman for the former rebels. He adds that Di Tiro was essential to reaching a 2005 peace deal with the Indonesian goverment.

That deal was brokered with foreign help and gave Aceh limited autonomy from Indonesia. It also granted an amnesty to former rebels and allowed them to form their own political party, which now controls local politics.

Di Tiro had become a Swedish national while in exile. Just one day before his death, Indonesia restored his citizenship. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed his condolences after Di Tiro's death was announced.

Aceh was the region hardest hit by the 2004 Asian tsunami. Tens of thousands of people were killed in the province and the capital was largely wiped out.