Burma's largest ethnic rebel group, the Karen National Union, says its veteran former leader, Bo Mya, has died in a Thai hospital after a long illness.
He was 79. Karen officials say Bo Mya died early Sunday morning at a private hospital in the town of Mae Sot in northwestern Thailand, near the border with Burma.
He had suffered from diabetes and other illnesses for several years.
Bo Mya was president of the Karen National Union from 1976 to 2000, when he stepped down because of poor health.
The K.N.U. and its military wing the Karen National Liberation Army have been fighting for greater autonomy from the Burmese government since 1948, when the country gained independence from Britain.
The K.N.U. is one of the few remaining Burmese insurgent groups that have not signed a formal peace deal with the country's military rulers.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and REUTERS.