GAM Leader Dies

GAM Leader Dies

BANDA ACEH

The founder of Aceh’s separatist rebel movement died on Thursday aged 85 after two weeks in an intensive care unit on Sumatra island, an official said.

Free Aceh Movement (GAM) founder Hassan di Tiro returned to Indonesia in October 2008 after nearly 30 years in exile in Sweden and a war that killed thousands of people.

“Hassan di Tiro passed away at 12.20am at the age of 85 in the hospital,” Muchsalmina, spokesman for Aceh Transitional Committee (KPA) which replaced GAM, said.

Di Tiro’s declaration of independence from Indonesia in 1976 sparked a three-decade civil war that claimed 15,000 lives and left deeply Islamic Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, in ruins.

But it was the terrible devastation of the Asian tsunami, which killed about 170,000 people in the province, that prompted Di Tiro and other GAM leaders to agree to a 2005 autonomy pact with Indonesia.

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