Security tightened at border crossings

national May 23, 2014 00:00

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Security at several border checkpoints were strengthened on Friday following the military coup on Thursday.

Soldiers were assigned to the checkpoint bordering Laos at Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge in Nong Khai's Muang district. Thai citizens were prohibited from crossing the border to Laos but Laotians were allowed to return home through the checkpoint.

Thais, Laotians and other foreigners presenting their passports were permitted to cross into Thailand as were patients requiring medical treatment on the Thai side of the border.

Trucks carrying goods in and out of the country have to pass through two checkpoints and face strict screening to prevent any movement of those banned by National Peace and Order Maintaining Council from leaving the country.

The measure was put in place after reports that some politicians might try to sneak out of the country.

The Suranaree Task Force has ordered a three-day closure of Saitaku checkpoint in Buri Ram’s Ban Kruat district to prevent security-related offenders and politicians leaving the country.

The measure would also prevent smuggling of weapons in and out of the country. The closure will be in place until Sunday.

The checkpoint in Sa Kaew’s Aranyaprathet district is still open for crossing and the border markets on both sides were as crowded as ever. However, screening for people and vehicles is stricter.

Sa Kaew deputy police commander Col Benjapon Rodsawat said that the number of border crossings following the coup was normal though the number of foreigners travelling through the checkpoint to Thailand had probably reduced due to uncertainties about the political situation.

"We have informed tour guides that the situation is normal and safe so that they will tell the foreigners,” he said.

Meta Lorcharoenwattanachai, a trader in Rongklua market on the Thai side of the border said he had received several phone calls from Cambodian friends asking if the checkpoint was closed following the coup. He told them that the checkpoint is open as usual.