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Phuket calm while Thailand on red alert



Phuket calm while Thailand on red alert | Thaiger

PHUKET: In Phuket as well as the rest of Thailand today all eyes will be on the red shirts and the national security situation as protesters commemorate the fourth anniversary of the September 2006 military coup and the fourth month since the crackdown on the bloody rally in Bangkok.

Security has been beefed up in Chiang Mai and Bangkok but government officials insist they expect no violence at today’s events. And they warned that the red shirts, in their biggest gathering since May 19, should not prolong the event, block roads or use amplifiers – otherwise, they would face arrest.

A source from CRES (the Center for Resolution of the Emergency Situation) said Deputy Prime Minister and CRES Director Suthep Thaugsuban had not visited the Army headquarters – the CRES “war room” – and expected moves by the red shirts today would be mainly symbolic.

The source said an ill-intentioned group had tried to instigate trouble in Bangkok last week. Their targeted areas included the subway’s Asoke Station, the BTS Taksin Station and the Rama IX Bridge. National security officials learnt of their intentions and the group later abandoned its plan.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said agencies in charge of security were keeping an eye on the possibility of violence.

Although no plans for violence had been reported, he said security agencies must watch out for opportunists who might take chances during major political movements.

Abhisit declined to answer whether the movements had anything to do with reports of missing weapons. He said the Army should clarify the issue.

Security officers in Chiang Mai inspected areas in and around the Nakhon Chiang Mai Municipal Stadium, where the red shirts plan to hold commemoration events.

They also surveyed high-rise buildings and inspected the closed-circuit cameras in and around the venue.

The red shirts started their activities yesterday morning with 50 vehicles joining a caravan from Big C Lat Phrao to Chiang Mai.

The group announced it was a symbolic activity, calling for the government to improve its performance and solve farmers’ revenue problems, as well as a change in the justice system to more trials by jury.

Chiang Mai Governor Amornpan Nimmanan and provincial police chief Maj-General Sommai Kongwisaisuk deployed a combined force of 200 police, army officers and plainclothes security personnel last night to ensure law and order. The forces will be on duty until Tuesday morning.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued a warning to all its citizens of possible explosions or other violence in Bangkok and Chiang Mai today.

As was the case, throughout the two months of red shirt protests in Bangkok earlier this year, there have been no visible signs of strife or unrest in Phuket and life in the island resort province continues ‘calm and normal’ today.

— The Nation


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