Thai police wary of prolonged rally against amnesty bill

Thai police wary of prolonged rally against amnesty bill

BANGKOK - Police on Thursday expressed concerns over the protests against a government-proposed law that would grant blanket amnesty to all those involved in political conflicts since the 2006 coup.

They expected between 20,000 and 30,000 people to gather at Bangkok's Samsen Railway Station in a street protest organised by the opposition Democrat Party. The protesters were expected to stay for a long rally, judging from the amount of food and preparations they have, said Pol Maj-General Piya Uthayo, spokesman for the government's Peacekeeping Operations Centre.

The House of Representatives on Thursday debated the amnesty bill in the second reading. The debate went smoothly until the discussion on the bill's name. Opposition MPs protested against an early closure of the debate, leading to tension and an exchange of words with government MPs.

By Thursday evening, some 8,000 protesters, mostly from Bangkok, had gathered at the Samsen protest site as per an estimate of the Special Branch police, Piya said. He said any violent incident at the site could lead to suspension of train services.

Train services at Samsen station continued as usual on Thursday, said Somchid Kijja, a public relations officer at the station. He dismissed an earlier report in the social media that trains would not stop at Samsen station.

National police chief General Adul Sangsingkaew said on Thursday that he was assessing the situation and would decide after three days whether to extend the Internal Security Act in three inner city districts of the capital, which had earlier been extended until the end of November.

He said at present about 40 companies, or more than 5,000 policemen, from the Metropolitan Police Bureau have been dispatched to keep law and order in Bangkok, with a focus on areas around Government House and Parliament.

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