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State of emergency in Bangkok (Updated)

Updated 5:32pm, 12 April 2009

BANGKOK, 12 April 2009: The Thai Government has declared a state of emergency in capital Bangkok and five nearby provinces, in a move to contain the anti-government protesters who had stormed the venue of the 14th Asean Summit and related summits in Pattaya Saturday and forced its cancellation.

The under-siege Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva made the announcement over national television and said that the order also included Samut Prakan where the Suvarnabhumi International Airport is situated, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom and Ayutthaya.

The airport was closed late last year for several days by anti-government protestors.

“The government wants to restore order and bring peace to the provinces,” said Abhisit, who had vowed to take drastic action against anti-government protestors whom he labelled ‘Public Enemy’ after forcing the cancellation of the summit.

He said his deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, would take charge of enforcing the state of emergency with the assistance of the police and soldiers.

The announcement comes a day after Abhisit declared a state of emergency in Pattaya before revoking the order seven hours later, after all leaders from Asean and its dialogue partners left for home safely.

The situation in Bangkok became tense after police arrested a former popular singer and ex-lawmaker Arisamun Pongruengrong, an ally of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, on Sunday, for leading the protest in Pattaya.

The Red Shirt supporters rushed to the Interior Ministry where Abhisit was holding meeting with senior security officials.

Television reports said Abhisit left the place before they arrived, but several people were injured in a scuffle with security personnel, and several shots were fired.

The police and soldiers are expected to disperse about 2,000 anti-government protestors currently occupying all roads leading to the Government House since 26 March.

The crowd, which swelled to over 100,000 on 8 April, became thinner as most of them returned to celebrate the Songkran festival, starting tomorrow. — Bernama

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