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Bangkok Steps Up Security Measures


Security measures are being stepped up in Bangkok, following the fatal New Year's Eve bombings and before an annual celebration this Saturday. VOA's Suzanne Presto in Bangkok reports.

There are a few signs of stepped up security in Thailand's capital in recent days; the occasional armed soldier or security guard checking handbags at an entrance to the city's subway system, and clear plastic bags where there once were sturdy public trash bins.

Government officials say there are additional security measures throughout the city, including some that members of the public are not meant to notice.

"The army has now put in personnel into over 300 locations around the metropolis to keep check on various movements," said Yongyuth Mayalarp, a spokesman for the Thai government. "The army, as well as the police, are in full scale operation at the moment, looking after all the areas, in uniforms and out of uniforms."

In addition to plain-clothes security forces, the government is also planning to install 1,000 closed-circuit television cameras.

Security is going to be even tighter in the capital Saturday, January 13, for the annual Children's Day celebrations. It will be the city's first large-scale event since New Year's Eve. Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend the festivities in Bangkok.

Government buildings will be open to the public. But a Ministry of Education event will be held in a large fairground in central Bangkok and Yongyuth explains extra security measures will be in place.

"The Ministry of Education is arranging to have the equipment to detect explosive devices to be installed at entrances, and requesting families and children to enter the premises without carrying rucksacks or anything that may be difficult to inspect," he said.

Meanwhile, the military government of Thailand is asserting greater control over the country since it took power in a coup in September. It has canceled the diplomatic passports of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife.

It has again told local media to censor its reporting. The latest warnings insist Thai media should not report on the movements or statements made by the now-exiled Thaksin.

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