Ousted Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and dozens of other political figures appear to have been detained after arriving for meetings with military leaders who took power in a coup this week.
After being summoned by the army, Yingluck and others arrived Friday at a military installation in Bangkok. Military officials are quoted as confirming that Yingluck is now in custody.
Thai media reports say her aides were bringing her personal effects to a military base outside Bangkok. It is not clear if the other politicians in custody have been taken to the same camp.
U.S. suspends military aid
Meanwhile, the United States has suspended $3.5 million in military aid to Thailand, and says it is reviewing another $7 million in assistance for more cuts.
Friday's announcement came just hours after the Thai military took the country's ousted prime minister into custody, in an apparent move to solidify its grip on power.
The U.S. State Department also warned U.S. citizens against non-essential travel to the country.
The whereabouts of Yingluck and dozens of other political figures remained unclear early Saturday -- nearly two days after the Thai army announced its military coup.
The military already had banned Yingluck and more than 150 other political figures from leaving Thailand without permission.
It is not clear if the other politicians in custody are in the same camp. The country's caretaker prime minister, Niwattumrong Boosongpaisan, was among those summoned by military authorities. Until the bloodless coup, he had been in charge of the kingdom on an acting basis, after a court ordered Yingluck to step down earlier this month on charges of nepotism.
Broadcasters in Thailand began resuming normal operations late Friday.
Prayuth, the self-declared acting prime minister and ardent monarchist, was able to intimidate his two previous civilian predecessors into reporting to an army facility under threat of arrest if they disobeyed. A total of 155 people have been told not to leave the country.
The junta boss on Friday also summoned civil servants and invited the diplomatic corps and foreign military attaches for meetings to explain the new realities on the ground in the kingdom.
As was apparently the case with most other heads of missions, U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney did not accept the invitation. In a VOA interview, she said that, despite the imposition of martial law on Tuesday, the coup announcement two days later came “as a bit of a surprise” and it will hurt the relationship between Bangkok and Washington.
“We have a longstanding relationship,” Kenney said. “But a coup in Thailand will have a negative implication. There'll be a high-level review in Washington by the United States government of our assistance and our engagements with Thailand, especially the Thai military. So that'll be looked at very carefully.”
Throughout most of Friday, Thai TV channels continued to carry only the army station’s programming, which was mostly patriotic music interspersed with pronouncements from the new National Peace and Order Maintaining Council. Some channels returned to regular broadcasts in the evening.
Despite the coup, Thailand’s 12th in eight decades, there was little significant troop presence on the streets of the capital.
A small but significant demonstration, organized by university students, defied the military order of no public gatherings by more than five people. They vented their anger at soldiers and denounced the coup.
The most serious immediate impact from the coup is likely to be on Thailand’s lucrative tourism industry.
On the resort island of Phuket, businessman Sanga Ruangwattanakul said the coup has worsened an already bad year following months of political turmoil.
"The big picture: We have had a lot of cancellations from this year,” he said, and going forward “all the online bookings have been cancelled."
The country, now under a seven-hour nightly curfew, has no idea how long military rule and its various restrictions will continue. After the last coup in 2006, elections were not held for another 15 months.
Soldiers take up position at the Democracy monument after the coup was declared in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
Anti-government protesters waiting at the Royal Plaza for transportation home stand behind a soldier after the coup was declared in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
Anti-government protesters get ready to leave their main encampment after the coup was declared in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
Thai journalists and foreign press watch the TV broadcast announcement of the coup by the Thai Armed Forces chiefs, at the press center of the Army Club, in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
Anti-government protesters raise their fists as they sing the national anthem, in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
Thai soldiers block a motorcade of an attendant at the Army Club shortly after the army staged a coup, May 22, 2014, in Bangkok, Thailand.
An armed soldier takes a position behind a military vehicle in the compound of the Army Club shortly after the military staged a coup, in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
Thai soldiers guard an area where anti-government protesters come to rally, in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
Barefoot Buddhist monks walk past a checkpoint near a pro-government "red shirt" supporter encampment in Nakhon Pathom province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, May 22, 2014.