Thailand police personnel surround the Dhammakaya sect temple in Pathum Thani, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, February 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
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Rights groups Tuesday urged the Thai army to drop defamation charges against three activists over a report on torture in the conflict-hit south, decrying the prosecution as an effort to silence critics.The 2016 report, based on interviews with 54 former detainees, cataloged a host of torture tactics allegedly used by soldiers and police across the kingdom's Muslim-majority southernmost provinces.More than 6,700 people -- mostly civilians -- have been killed in a near-13 year insurgency by Malay Muslim locals against the Thai state, which rules the region with emergency laws.The Thai army denied the allegations and launched proceedings against the report's writers.No member of the Thai security forces has ever been jailed for extrajudicial killings or torture in the restive "Deep South".
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