Army Declares Martial Law In Thailand; Government Wasn’t Informed

It’s tense in Thailand, where violence has spilled into the streets, causing deaths, injuries and political instability that led to the Thai army declaring martial law Tuesday.

The declaration was a surprise move that an aide to the embattled Prime Minister said the government didn’t know about.

“They took this action unilaterally,” said the aide, who did not wish to be named. The person described the action as “half a coup d’etat.”

Lt. Gen. Nipat Thonglek told CNN the move was not a coup.

“The army aims to maintain peace, order and public safety for all groups and all parties,” a ticker running on the army’s television channel said. “People are urged not to panic, and can carry on their business as usual,” he said.

Two weeks ago, after protests shook the country, the country’s Constitutional Court removed caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from government.

The people of Thailand are all too familiar with coup d’etats. There have been at least 18 actual and attempted military takeovers since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.

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Guarding the media

Martial law went into effect at 3 a.m. Tuesday, a television ticker said.

The military is guarding all Thai TV stations, Thai public television announced, showing pictures of soldiers and armored vehicles taking positions outside broadcast facilities in the country’s capital.

In a statement read on Thai television, the military declared that all of the country’s radio and television stations must suspend their normal programs “when it is needed.”

The dramatic announcements come days after the head of the army issued a stern warning after political violence had surged in the country’s capital.

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok alerted American citizens in the country to the invoking of martial law in a statement Tuesday. It warned them to pay attention to media coverage of Thailand and avoid protests and public gatherings, saying that even peaceful events can turn violent.

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