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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008, 00:35 GMT
Thailand PM targets drug dealers
Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, 8 February, 2008
Mr Samak would not set a target for how many people might die
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is planning to revive a controversial anti-drugs campaign which reportedly killed 2,500 people.

Mr Samak, elected in December polls, promised a decisive, and quite possibly bloody campaign against drug dealers.

He said he would use the same ruthless tactics as his political patron and predecessor, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006.

"I will not set a target for how many people should die," said Mr Samak.

"We will pursue a suppression campaign rigorously. There will be consequences."

Extra-judicial killings

While Mr Thaksin's 2003-2004 campaign enjoyed popular support and did, briefly, curb Thailand's rising drug problem, it resulted in some 2,500 deaths.

Human rights groups accused police of extra-judicial killings, saying many of the dead were later proved to have been innocent.

When we implement a policy that may bring 3,000 to 4,000 bodies, we will do it
Chalerm Yubamrung
Thai Interior Minister

Mr Thaksin always denied any wrongdoing.

A government investigation into the drugs war, launched after Mr Thaksin was deposed, concluded there was no evidence to take legal action against the former premier for the deaths.

Mr Samak defended both Mr Thaksin and the police, saying the drug-dealers had turned on each other.

"The drug traffickers were killing each other so that authorities would not be able to question them and track down their big bosses," he told reporters on Friday.

"If they were innocent, why were they killed?"


On Wednesday, Thai Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said the new campaign would go ahead, even if thousands had to die.

A Thai policeman stands next to a haul of methamphetamine haul in 2003
Police were accused of extra-judicial killings in the 2003 crackdown

"When we implement a policy that may bring 3,000 to 4,000 bodies, we will do it," said Mr Chalerm, himself a former police captain.

The target of the new drugs crackdown is the illegal methamphetamines industry.

Many of the drugs are made in neighbouring Burma, and smuggled into Thailand and beyond, says the BBC's Andrew Harding in Bangkok.

Thailand's bloody drug war
24 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Thai drugs war attacked
24 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Thai PM denies drugs dirty war
21 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Thai PM says officials peddling drugs
18 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Thai crackdown on drug dealers
04 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Methamphetamine scourge
25 Jun 02 |  Asia-Pacific

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