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Bougainville rebel leader Ona dies

Radio Australia, 25 July 2005

The man who began the 10-year secessionist war on Bougainville, Francis Ona, is dead.

Mr Ona died in his village near the abandoned Bougainville Copper mine after a short illness.

A former surveyor with Bougainville Mining Limited, Mr Ona sparked the Bougainville secessionist war in November 1988.

He began sabotage attacks on the mine at Panguna in support of demands for the equivalent, at the time, of $14 billion in compensation for environmental damage.

Mr Ona became supreme commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and steadfastly refused to negotiate with the Papua New Guinea authorities, even boycotting the talks in New Zealand in 1997 that eventually brought peace.

He rejected the autonomy deal that has seen the emergence of an elected, autonomous Bougainville Government.