Tight security Bangkok to block protests

Tight security Bangkok to block protests
A general view shows Ratchaprasong intersection during a curfew time in Bangkok.

Thousands of police and troops will be deployed today to prevent protests at eight locations around Bangkok and the Ratchaprasong intersection and the shopping district will be closed, a senior police officer said yesterday.

The eight spots are the Ratchaprasong intersection, King Taksin Monument, the Thepharak intersection, Victory Monument, Democracy Monument, Laksi Monument, Central Bang Na, and Seacon Square on Srinakharin Road.

Thirty-eight companies of troops and police will guard the eight spots and rapid deployment units will be on standby, Deputy Police Commissioner-General Pol Colonel Somyos Pumphanmuang said.

Traffic on the four roads leading to Victory Monument will be also closed from 4pm until the rally there ends, the Traffic Police Bureau announced.

The Ratchaprasong intersection, where several major shopping malls and hotels are located, are the centre of the operations against protesters today because Sombat Boongnarmanong, an elusive red-shirt activist, announced he would hold a rally in front of a shopping mall at the intersection.

Sombat has been summoned by the National Council for Peace and Order but he has ignored the order.

Sombat, a supporter of the deposed government, said on his Facebook webpage that he would later announce details of masquerade parties to be held at several major shopping malls and public parks around Bangkok to "celebrate the coup".

Somyos said police will block roads from the Chalermpao intersection, the Phloenchit intersection, the intersection in front of Big C Rajdamri and the intersection in front of AUA Rajdamri at 9am today to prevent protesters from approaching the Ratchaprasong intersection. The roads will be blocked until the officials can control the situation or the rally ends.

He said the people who want to pass through the road checkpoints will have to tell police the reason why they need to enter the zone.

Hotels located in the blocked zone would have to send staff to man the checkpoints to facilitate the arrivals of guests, Somyos said. He said the Skywalk passing through the intersection would also be closed from 9am until police could control the situation.

The BTS Skytrain would not stop at Chidlom, Phloenchit and Rajdamri stations, which will be closed today. To avoid the protest, Amarin Plaza, Gaysorn Plaza and Erawan malls will be closed today but would open as normal tomorrow, according to the Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association (RSTA) statement.

RSTA members would also beef up security at their tall buildings by prohibiting anyone from entering the rooftop around the clock. For customers' convenience, RSTA also said that Zen and CentralWorld, also located in the blocked zone, would open from 2pm-10pm, while "The Platinum Fashion Mall" would open as usual from 8am to 8pm. RSTA would give updates on any changes via www.facebook.com/heartofbangkok and Instagram: Ratchaprasong.

Nearby malls - Central Chidlom, Central Embassy, Siam Paragon, Siam Centre and Siam Discovery - will reportedly open as usual from 10am to 10pm. It was also reported that traffic around Victory Monument would close from 4pm.

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