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Naga rebels threaten to end ceasefire

A dominant tribal Naga separatist group in Nagaland threatened not to extend a nine-year-old ceasefire accord.

india Updated: Jul 22, 2006 14:25 IST

A dominant tribal Naga separatist group in Nagaland on Saturday threatened not to extend a nine-year-old ceasefire accord beyond this month-end if New Delhi fails to modify truce ground rules, a rebel leader said.

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), led by guerrilla leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, and government peace negotiators are due to meet for peace talks in Bangkok on July 28. The latest ceasefire expires July 31.

"There are lots of ceasefire ground rule violations by the Indian Army, besides serious charges of security forces either smuggling weapons seized from our cadres or providing such seized arms to one of our rival factions," NSCN-IM spokesperson Kraibo Chawang said.

"The very question of extending the ceasefire beyond July 31 is now at stake if the government does not clarify the issue of scores of missing weapons seized from us and also modifying certain ambiguous clauses of the ceasefire ground rules as sought by us."

The NSCN-IM has been struggling for nearly six decades to create a 'Greater Nagaland' by slicing off parts of three neighbouring states to add to the mountainous Nagaland state.

The NSCN-IM and New Delhi entered into a ceasefire agreement in August 1997 that has been renewed regularly.

Central Minister Oscar Fernandes will be leading the talks with the NSCN-IM in Bangkok.

"We hope to know if there is a solution or something definite in another two to three rounds of talks," Fernandes, who is now in Nagaland's capital Kohima, told journalists.

The rebels and the government have held at least 50 rounds of peace talks in the past nine years to end one of the longest running insurgencies that has claimed around 25,000 lives since 1947.

"The ceasefire is definitely not going well at this moment with the Indian government found to be a little insincere in its approach," Chawang said.

The demand for a 'Greater Nagaland' that would unite 1.2 million Nagas has been strongly opposed by the surrounding states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.