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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 11:27 GMT
Notorious Asian drug lord is dead
Khun Sa in Homong, Burma, in 1995
Khun Sa was once one of the world's most wanted men
One of Asia's most notorious warlords, Khun Sa, has died in the Burmese city of Rangoon.

He had reportedly been suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.

After decades of guerrilla warfare against the Burmese government, largely funded by his drugs empire, Khun Sa signed a peace deal in 1996.

He then retired to Rangoon, where he lived under the protection of the military rulers, despite the US offering $2m (1m) for his capture.

He was once one of the world's most wanted men, with a vast drug-trafficking operation in the so-called Golden Triangle region, spanning the border of Thailand, Laos and Burma.

'Lofty ideals'

With a private army numbering in the hundreds, Khun Sa claimed to be fighting for independence for the Shan people - an ethnic minority group based mainly in Burma.

But he fell out with other Shan leaders in the mid-1990s and surrendered to the Burmese military government.

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After his death, a former colleague said few in the Shan separatist movement would be mourning.

"He was a man with lofty ideals. He thought of becoming the liberator of Shan State," former guerrilla Khuensai Jaiyen told Reuters.

"But when the people he was supposed to be leading or liberating didn't accept his leadership, he turned his back on them."

'Prince of death'

Many have said his claims to be a freedom fighter were a ruse designed to give legitimacy to his drugs empire.

Washington reportedly branded him the "prince of death" and placed him on a par with the most notorious mafia dons.

As well as offering a huge reward, the US had requested his extradition to face drug-trafficking charges in a US court.

But it is believed he negotiated a deal with Burma's ruling generals to live out his life in relative luxury in Rangoon.

Family members and former colleagues of Khun Sa, who was in his mid-seventies, said he died within the past week. The cause of death is still unknown.



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