Troop invasion heads off Victory Monument protest

Troop invasion heads off Victory Monument protest

About 1,300 soldiers and police sealed off the Victory Monument and surrounding roads yesterday to prevent anti-coup demonstrators from defying a ban on political gatherings.

Roads around the Victory Monument are cleared of traffic as troops and police move in to block a planned anti-coup demonstration. SURAPOL PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN

Truckloads of troops and police moved in about 3.30pm, telling pedestrians, street vendors and passenger van drivers to leave the area. Reporters and photographers were allowed to cover events from the BTS skywalk.

The large-scale deployment followed a press briefing yesterday in which deputy police chief Pol Gen Somyos Phumpanmuang said drastic action would be taken to enforce law and order around the Victory Monument.

Anti-coup protesters have held a series of gatherings there since the May 22 coup despite a National Council for Peace and Order order prohibiting political gatherings of more than five people.

"Demonstrators have a hidden agenda so the authorities have to strictly enforce the law," Pol Gen Somyos said.

On Wednesday, anti-coup protesters descended on the Victory Monument resulting in minor scuffles with security forces. Protesters threw garbage bins and other objects at soldiers and vandalised an army truck.

Fears of further clashes at the Victory Monument yesterday came to nothing. The only signs of dissent came from several people who shouted and hurled abuse at the soldiers.

Three people, two Thai women and a foreign man, were detained for questioning after allegedly holding up signs opposing the coup. The area was re-opened to traffic shortly after 6pm.

While security forces were massing in force at the Victory Monument, anti-coup demonstrators joined a student-led protest at Thammasat University's Tha Prachan campus.

The protest was organised by the Thai Student Centre for Democracy which demanded the coup-makers release detainees, abolish martial law and restore the constitution.

A row broke out when protesters were asked by university staff to hold their protest elsewhere.

The protesters later agreed to hold their gathering outside at the Tha Prachan gate.

Troops and police stand guard in a large-scale deployment to block a planned anti-coup protest at the Victory Monument. Only a few protesters turned up and they were detained by soldiers. APICHIT JINAKUL

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