Fewer tanks in Bangkok as Thai army reduces presence

BANGKOK (Agence France-Presse, The Nation): Fewer tanks patrolled the streets of Bangkok today as the Thai army reduced their presence at key government facilities, but troops were not to be completely withdrawn, an army officer said.

Four tanks remained at Government House early today, compared with about 10 yesterday, and there were fewer armed soldiers on guard, a day and a half after the military seized power in a bloodless coup.

“As of now we have only two companies of troops — some 50 to 60 – deployed at Government House but total withdrawal is up to the army commander because there is not yet complete trust in the situation,” Lt Romklao Thuwatham told AFP.

“The army chief is very concerned over security,” he said, referring to Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, the leader of the coup. “If any small incident occurred, it could lead to violence, but soldiers will try to be relaxed.”

Tanks deployed along the main avenue leading to army headquarters and other ministries in central Bangkok were withdrawn late yesterday, ahead of the first full regular working day since the putsch.

Sources said the Military Council for Political Reform, as the generals are now calling themselves, were not fully at ease because some of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s key ministers were gathering at air force bases.

The group included Defense Minister General Thammarak Issarangkura Na Ayutthaya, Air Chief Marshall Kongsak Vantana and Police General Jumpol Manmai, who is the head of the National Intelligence Agency.

Phuket News

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