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Thai Drug War Kills 484, Police Say

February 23, 2003|From Associated Press

BANGKOK, Thailand — A campaign by authorities in Thailand to root out drugs has claimed the lives of 484 people in the last three weeks, mostly because of gang killings of informants, police said Saturday.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra launched the campaign Feb. 1, vowing to crack down on trafficking of illegal drugs -- especially methamphetamines, or speed pills -- over the next three months.

But the mounting death toll has prompted charges by rights groups and forensic experts that extrajudicial executions are being carried out by or on behalf of police.

Maj. Gen. Pongsapat Pongcharoen, a police spokesman, said Saturday that 22 people have been killed by police in drug-related cases since the campaign began. An additional 462 deaths have been attributed to killings of informants by dealers, he said.

Three policemen have been killed since the war on drugs was launched.

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