The Violent Drug Trade and Insurgency; A Tsunami Devastates
In Feb. 2003, Thaksin announced plans to eliminate the drug trade from
Thailand within three months. When the operation concluded at the end of
April, nearly 2,300 people had been killed. Government officials claimed
responsibility for about 35 of the casualties, blaming drug dealers and
gang members for the other deaths. Human rights activists, however,
suspected police forces had been overly aggressive in their campaign.
Violence has plagued Thailand's Muslim-dominated southern provinces
since the beginning of 2004, with armed insurgents attacking police
stations, security stations, and military depots. Nearly 800 people have
been killed in the attacks, which officials attribute to Islamic
militants. The violence intensified in July 2005, prompting Thaksin to
declare a state of emergency in the south. Pattani Province was rocked by
attacks in Feb. 2007, when some 30 coordinated bombs exploded at bars,
hotels, and electricity transmitters. While the insurgents have been vague
in explaining their motivation for such attacks, the most recent bombings
suggest they are targeting Buddhists as well as other Muslims.
On Dec. 26, 2004, a tremendously powerful tsunami ravaged 12 Asian
countries. Thailand reported about 5,300 casualties.