Indian official says key rebel leader dies in Myanmar

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The leader of a key insurgent group in India's remote northeast has died in a hospital in Myanmar nearly two years after he called off peace talks with the Indian government, an official said Saturday.

Nagaland state police chief L.L. Doungel said S.S. Khaplang, head of a faction of the separatist National Socialist Council of Nagaland, died of renal failure Friday in Taga region, his outfit's headquarters. He was 77.

Doungel said his information was based on intelligence reports.

Khaplang called off peace talks with India in 2015 after 14 years of futile negotiations and resumed his fight for an independent Naga homeland.

India blamed his group for killing 18 army soldiers in Manipur state bordering Myanmar in 2015 in the worst attack by the insurgents in two decades.

Shurhozelle Liezietsu, the top elected official of Nagaland state, said Saturday that officials had visited Myanmar recently and held talks with leaders of the Khaplang faction to encourage them to return to the peace talks.

Separatist groups in the northeast accuse the Indian government of exploiting the region's rich natural resources while neglecting local development.