Nine more companies of police have been mobilised to guard Government House after an anti-government protest was predicted to become protracted.
Several companies of policemen don riot gear and prepare to reinforce colleagues providing security around Government House as Pefot protesters gather nearby. CHANAT KATANYU
Security was stepped up after anti-government groups led by the People's Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism (Pefot) moved from Lumpini Park to Government House on Monday.
An extra nine companies of police officers were brought in Tuesday. They are from city police and Chon Buri and Rayong.
They have been added to the six companies of police already stationed there. Government House decided to shut seven gates leaving only one open, the one facing Orathai Bridge.
People entering and leaving the gate were being screened.
About 250 demonstrators were gathered on the opposite side of Government House on Phitsanulok Road.
Police set up a checkpoint on Ratchadamnoen Road leading to the protest site and closed the road from the Phanitchakan intersection to Suan Misakawan intersection to prevent a third party from stirring up trouble, said Pol Maj Gen Adul Narongsak, a deputy city police chief.
He said police were to keep the protesters from laying siege to Government House.
National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said the protest remained under control. Pefot members have remained at the demonstration site after the other alliance groups dispersed earlier. Political sources said the security precautions came after soothsayers had predicted the government could face its doom on Oct 8.
National police spokesman Piya Uthayo said parts of Phitsanulok Road and Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue were impassable due to the protest.
Police searched people entering the rally site for weapons, Pol Maj Gen Piya said. Pefot is led by retired top brass Adm Chai Suwannaphap and Gen Preecha Iamsuphan as well as Thaikorn Polsuwan.
The protest leaders took turns at the gathering to lambast the government, particularly for pressing ahead with the charter amendment.
Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Kamronwit Thoopkrachang said the protest situation was not serious and there was no need to invoke the Internal Security Act.
Pol Maj Gen Piya said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had told police to negotiate with the protesters so roads around Government House could be reopened to traffic. Police were also looking to see if the 56 civic groups planning a gathering at Rangsit University on Sunday are linked to Pefot.