Thailand's army declares martial law, denies coup

  • Thai soldiers prepare to deploy around the Army Club in Bangkok May 20, 2014. Thailand's army declared martial law on Tuesday to restore order after six months of anti-government protests which have left the country without a functioning government.The declaration did not constitute a coup and was made in response to deteriorating security, an army general said.
  • A Thai soldier walks in front of the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand television station in Bangkok May 20, 2014.Thailand's army declared martial law on Tuesday to restore order after six months of anti-government protests which have left the country without a functioning government.The declaration did not constitute a coup and was made in response to deteriorating security, an army general said.
  • Commuters drive their motorcycles past Thai soldiers positioned in the middle of a main intersection in Bangkok's shopping district May 20, 2014. Thailand's army declared martial law on Tuesday to restore order after six months of anti-government protests which have left the country without a proper functioning government, but the move did not constitute a coup, military officials said.
  • Thai army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha (C) arrives for a meeting at the Army Club in Bangkok on May 20, 2014. Thailand's army declared martial law after months of deadly anti-government protests, deploying armed troops in central Bangkok and censoring the media but insisting the move was "not a coup."
  • Bus passengers look-on at Thai army soldiers standing guard outside on a city centre street after martial law was declared on May 20, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand. The army imposed martial law across Thailand amid a deepening political crisis that has seen six months of protests and claimed at least 28 lives.
  • A Thai soldier jumps off a military truck after arriving at a pro-government rally site on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, May 20, 2014. Thailand's army declared martial law before dawn Tuesday in a surprise announcement it said was aimed at keeping the country stable after six months of sometimes violent political unrest. The military, however, denied a coup d'etat was underway.
  • Leader of anti-government protesters Suthep Thaugsuban reacts as he is hugged by a supporter during a march in Bangkok, Thailand, May 19, 2014. Thailand's political crisis deepened last week when the Constitutional Court removed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for nepotism along with nine Cabinet members in a case that many viewed as politically motivated. Protesters say Yingluck's removal is not enough, though. She was simply replaced by Niwattumrong, who was a deputy premier from the ruling party.
  • Thai army soldiers secure the compound of the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand after martial law was imposed in Bangkok on May 20, 2014.  Thailand's army declared martial law across the deeply divided kingdom on May 20 to restore order after months of deadly anti-government protests, deploying armed troops in the capital but insisting the move was "not a coup."
  • Thai soldiers man a checkpoint near pro-government "red shirt" supporters encampment in suburbs of Bangkok May 20, 2014. Thailand's army declared martial law nationwide on Tuesday to restore order after six months of street protests that have left the country without a proper functioning government, but denied that the surprise move amounted to a military coup.
  • A Thai soldier stands outside the Government Public Relations Department after martial law was imposed in Bangkok on May 20, 2014. Thailand's army on May 20 declared martial law across the crisis-gripped kingdom to restore order following months of anti-government protests that have left 28 people dead and hundreds wounded.
  • Thai army soldiers enter the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand after martial law was declared on May 20, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand. The army imposed martial law across Thailand amid a deepening political crisis that has seen six months of protests and claimed at least 28 lives.
  • A Thai soldier stands in front of the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand television station in Bangkok May 20, 2014. Thailand's army declared martial law on Tuesday to restore order after six months of anti-government protests which have left the country without a functioning government.The declaration did not constitute a coup and was made in response to deteriorating security, an army general said.
  • Thai soldiers (R) inside the control room of the offices of the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT) in Bangkok, Thailand, May 20, 2014. Thai army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha early on 20 May 2014, declared martial law giving the military full control to prevent further protest-related violence in the country. The statement was issued about 3 am on May 20, according to local media reports. Prayuth has the authority to declare martial law without the consent of the government, which has had caretaker status since 09 December 2013. Thailand has been wracked by six months of non-stop protests seeking to topple the government. At least 25 people have died in political-related violence and more than 700 injured.
  • Thai soldiers walk inside a compound of the Army Club after the army declared martial law nationwide to restore order, in Bangkok May 20, 2014. Thailand's army declared martial law nationwide on Tuesday to restore order after six months of street protests that have left the country without a proper functioning government, but insisted the surprise intervention was not a military coup.
  • Anti-government protesters listen to their national anthem during a gathering, May 20, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand's army declared martial law in a surprise announcement before dawn Tuesday that it said was aimed at keeping the country stable after six months of sometimes violent political unrest. The military, however, denied a coup d'etat was underway. (AP Photo/sakchai Lalit)
  • An anti-government protester waves a Thai national flag during a march through streets in Bangkok, Thailand, May 19, 2014. Thailand's political crisis deepened last week when the Constitutional Court removed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for nepotism along with nine Cabinet members in a case that many viewed as politically motivated. Protesters said Thursday, Yingluck's removal is not enough, though. She was simply replaced by Niwattumrong, who was a deputy premier from the ruling party.
  • A Thai soldier mans his machine gun atop a military vehicle outside the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) after soldiers were sent in to seize the center Tuesday, May 20, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand's army declared martial law in a surprise announcement in Bangkok before dawn on Tuesday, intensifying the turbulent nation's deepening political crisis. The military, however, denied a coup d'etat was underway.

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The army in Thailand declared martial law early Tuesday as political unrest continues in the country. But the military denied the beginning of a coup.

Officials said they issued the surprise nationwide order to install order and a proper functioning government after six months of scattered violent street protests. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief, said the law would last until the restoration of peace, according to a report published by Reuters and The Associated Press. He also said the army will take action against anyone who harms civilians and uses force.

“I asked all sides, all groups to stop any movement in order to start the sustainable solution as soon as possible,” he said in a statement.

Fears of civil war in the southeastern Asian country have risen during a nearly decades-long power struggle between the former telecoms tycoon Thaksin and the royalist establishment. Demonstrators have taken to the streets most recently in ongoing protests since November.

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