Thai drug war toll nears 2000
Published by BBC News – Monday 21 April, 2003
Copyright: BBC News
Thai police have said that 1,897 people have been killed since a controversial crackdown on drugs was launched on 1 February.
Officials said 42 of the total had been shot by police acting in self defence.
The remainder were killed as a result of in-fighting between drug gang members, Thai authorities said.
The campaign’s high death toll has prompted international criticism and allegations from human rights groups that the government has encouraged the police to operate a “shoot-to-kill” policy.
But Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he was pleased with the crackdown’s success.
Police have arrested over 42,000 suspects, confiscated 12.4 million methamphetamine tablets and seized over $12m of suspects’ assets.
Speaking to the BBC’s Tony Cheng, Mr Thaksin vowed to continue the campaign and rid Thailand of drugs by the end of April.
“We are quite positive that we can eliminate drugs from Thai soil,” he said.
Critics of the government have said that the campaign is little more than a public relations exercise. They fear that once the crackdown ends, the supply of drugs will start up again.
Drug agencies estimate that more than one billion methamphetamine pills are smuggled into the country each year, and that up to 5% of the 63 million population are addicted to the drug.