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Security in Bangkok Tightened as Olympic Torch Arrives


The Olympic torch has arrived in Thailand after large-scale protests in New Delhi forced a shortening of the relay in the Indian capital.

A chartered flight carrying the torch and a Chinese security entourage landed early Friday at Bangkok's military airport from New Delhi. About 30 Thais of Chinese descent waved Chinese and Olympic flags to welcome the torch's arrival.

Thailand's Olympic Committee president, General Yuttasak Sasiprapha, said Thursday that any foreigners attempting to disrupt Saturday's torch relay will be expelled from the country.

Thousands of police and soldiers will guard the torch Saturday as it is carried about 10 kilometers by 80 Thai torchbearers. One of the Thai torchbearers withdrew in protest last month over China's crackdown in Tibet. Crown Princess Sirindhorn will preside over welcome ceremony for the torch.

Some 15,000 security personnel were mobilized to guard Thursday's 2.3-kilometer torch relay in New Delhi, where thousands of Tibet exiles gathered in protest.

The Indian leg of the Olympic torch relay ended after a run Thursday through New Delhi. Anti-Chinese protests took place in parts of the country, but public access was limited along the torch route.

Thailand hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrant workers from neighboring Burma, where pro-democracy groups have called for an Olympic boycott over China's support for the military government.

The Olympic torch symbolizing the Beijing Games began its worldwide six-continent trek from ancient Olympia in Greece on March 24. Earlier torch relays in Paris, London and San Francisco were marred by anti-China demonstrations.

The relay is scheduled to include Mount Everest, which lies on the border of Tibet and Nepal.

Pro-Tibet activists have called on the International Olympic Committee to cancel the Tibet leg of the torch relay.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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