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Soldiers told to negotiate first before detaining

Press to be strictly controlled to ensure it is not used to instigate riots

In a move to stop disaffected factions from staging attacks and instigating riots, the military has threatened to take tough action against anybody caught carrying weapons, and is proactively conducting a campaign to woo grass-roots support.

First Army Region chief

Lt-General Theerachai Nakwanich, as commander of the peacekeeping force, issued four measures at his headquarters yesterday to help police and military officials boost security nationwide.

The security officials were instructed to step up efforts in arresting suspects, including armed militants and protest leaders, and detain people who failed to report to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). Security officials have also been strictly banned from holding hostage suspects' family members who are innocent if they are unable to arrest the actual suspects.

Media control will also be strictly observed in order to prevent the use of the press in instigating riots, protests and insulting the monarchy and other high institutions.

Officials at checkpoints have been ordered to search for bombs and explosive devices and to block masses from reaching Bangkok, to prevent mass protests in the capital.

Proactive campaigns will be conducted at the grass-roots levels to help people understand the NCPO's objectives. The junta will also implement seven urgent policies, which will be carried out in three stages.

Police will be the main force in controlling protests. They have been instructed to be initially lenient before opting for stricter measures, such as negotiating before arresting protest leaders. The police have also been instructed to avoid the use of force, to prevent deaths and injuries.

Theerachai said soldiers stationed at various spots would not reject food and supplies handed to them by members of the public even though they might be handed some dangerous items under the guise of donations.

He also warned that action would be taken against those who intend to harm soldiers, though the troops have been strictly banned from using weapons except for self-defence.

He said the NCPO could not reveal the number of people in its custody or how many have been summoned to report to the junta. Those released have been asked to sign a document promising not to instigate protests, otherwise they will face drastic action.

"There are some who agree to the criteria and some who do not. They have been warned not to make any moves, but to wait and see how the NCPO will work," he said.

Theerachai also said leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship had not been released, but were being provided good food and lodging while in custody.

They will be released when the time is right, he said, but those facing criminal charges, especially those caught with weapons, would be prosecuted.


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