A state official says the militant leader of the Naga tribal insurgency, Isak Chichi Swu, has died in a New Delhi hospital at the age of 87.

Spokesman K. Mere of the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland confirmed Swu's death Tuesday. Swu died before rebel negotiators were able to reach a peace accord with the Indian government.

Swu was born in Nagaland, near the border with Myanmar, and fought with the insurgency since the mid-1950s for a Naga homeland separate from India.

He was in exile when he and other rebel leaders signed a cease-fire with the Indian government in 1997. Some 80 rounds of peace talks have been held since then, and are expected to conclude a peace deal soon that would offer Nagas increased autonomy.