Page last updated at 13:45 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 14:45 UK

Assam rebel group lays down arms

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Assam map

One of the most dreaded rebel armies of India's troubled north-east has begun surrendering weapons to facilitate a final settlement, officials said.

More than 200 rebels from the Black Widows group have given in their weapons so far, police said.

The Black Widows is a breakaway faction of the Dima Halim Daogah, a group fighting for an independent homeland for the Dimasa tribe.

The rebels have regularly attacked security forces and migrant workers.

More than 200 people have died in Assam's North Cachar Hills district in attacks by Black Widows.

'Lot of ammunition'

"We are putting the weapons under double locks. They will be with us and the rebels will be kept in designated camps and will not move around with weapons," Assam's police chief Shankar Barua told the BBC.

The surrender is being led by the organisation's deputy, Daniel Dimasa. The group's chief Jewel Garlossa is in jail.

The Black Widow is a breakaway faction of the Dima Halim Daogah (DHD).

Four years ago, the DHD started negotiations with Delhi but the Black Widows continued its armed activity.

It is responsible for a spate of murders, attacks on railways and road transport and the group has ambushed patrols and convoys of security forces.

But recently the Black Widows group has been crippled by a series of reverses, including the arrest of their chief in June.

This is the first time a rebel group in the north-east has surrendered their weapons before starting negotiations.

The Assam government had said the Black Widows would have to surrender its weapons by 15 September for any "meaningful discussions" to be held.

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