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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 07:24 GMT
Thai PM hails drug war success
Thai police stand over the body of a victim
The Thai drugs campaign has left more than 2,000 people dead
Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said a controversial war against drugs would continue, despite its claimed success.

Mr Thaksin told a rally in Bangkok that thousands of "bad people" had been arrested during the 10-month campaign.

He brushed off criticism from human rights groups that have accused police of murdering hundreds of suspected dealers.

Police have blamed most of the deaths on inter-gang violence.

Police say they have arrested about 90,000 people on drugs-related charges since the campaign started in February and have seized more than 40 million methamphetamine pills and assets worth 1.8bn baht ($45m) from suspected dealers.

"Some of the bad guys have died, and some of them are serving prison terms. I am ready to confront them in every way," Mr Thaksin said at a ceremony on Wednesday.

According to official statements, 2,245 drugs suspects were killed between 1 February and 30 April alone.

'Investigations needed'

Police say only a few dozen of the victims have been killed by police, and those have been shot in self-defence.

But London-based rights group Amnesty International criticised the Thai Government in a report last month for failing to initiate "independent, impartial, effective and prompt investigations" into the killings.

Charun Ditha-appichai of the National Human Rights Committee said he welcomed the government's commitment to stamping out drugs, but said it had caught few major traffickers.

"This government is much more determined than its predecessors to fight the drugs problems. Its unprecedented wide-ranging campaign has greatly boosted government popularity. But what we disagree is the ways it has been conducted," he said.

The BBC's Tony Cheng
"Critics say the government hasn't done enough to tackle problems at the root of drug abuse"

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