The insurgency in southern Thailand is changing shape, reports Human Rights Watch. Investigators believe that Muslim separatists have embraced a campaign of ethnic cleansing and intimidation, designed to drive Buddhists out of the predominately Muslim provinces and to control the remaining Muslims. Separatists have long complained of discrimination by the Bangkok government, but that does not excuse their recent tactics. A campaign that focuses on civilians is terrorism, plain and simple. It undermines any possible claim to legitimacy by the separatists and demands a response by the government.

During a 2 1/2-year period — from January 2004 to July 2007 — separatists carried out some 3,000 attacks on civilians; they launched another 1,000 against military personnel and institutions and the police. Human Rights Watch has concluded that nearly 90 percent of the 2,400 victims killed in the past three years have been civilians. Not only have they been victims, reports the watchdog agency; they have also been targets.

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