Bombings, arson and vandalism, all in the name of the environment, are on the rise.

Called "eco-terrorism," the actions are carried out by ecological and animal-rights extremists, creating sharp divisions among more moderate groups and sparking debates about if and when activism goes too far.

Government and law-enforcement officials, as well as some experts, say the phenomenon goes well beyond freedom of speech and the right to protest an issue. They argue the practices are violent, destructive and criminal and that the perpetrators should be punished.

Activists from extremist groups such as the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front counter that their causes and methods, however radical, are just. They contend their dramatic tactics are necessary to get attention, bring about change and inspire action.

We report ... you decide.

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