Thai forces descend on central Bangkok to stifle coup protests

By REUTERS
June 1, 2014 06:22
1 minute read.

 
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Thailand's military government has readied thousands of troops and police to stop any protests on Sunday against its seizure of power, with shopping malls and some train stations closing in central Bankok areas where protesters may congregate.

The military took over on May 22 after months of protests that had undermined the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, forcing ministries to close for weeks on end, hurting business confidence and causing the economy to shrink.

Protests against the coup have taken place in Bangkok most days since then although they have been small and brief.

On Sunday the authorities are anticipating that protesters will gather at several spots in the capital including an area in the centre where big malls are located. The military has banned political gatherings of five people or more.

Deputy police chief Somyot Poompanmoung told Reuters that 5,700 police and soldiers were being sent to these areas and rapid deployment units were ready to stop protests that spring up elsewhere.

Some top-end malls around the Ratchaprasong area have chosen to close or have reduced opening hours, and the operator of the Skytrain overhead rail network has shut several stations in the central area.

"It's a business centre and we need to protectively avoid any damage if authorities need to break up a gathering," Somyot said, adding mall owners could also find themselves in trouble with the authorities if protests took place on their premises.

On Saturday, as on the two previous days, the authorities effectively closed down the normally busy roads around Victory Monument, which was becoming a focal point for opposition to the coup. The area was flooded with police and troops but no protesters turned up.


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