Thailand extends harsh law

BANGKOK: Thailand extended a tough security law today as it faced more anti-government rallies, in a decision made by the cabinet shortly before two small grenade blasts hit its meeting place.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva confirmed the week-long extension of the measures, which were due to expire today, as part of a massive security response to rolling demonstrations launched on March 14.

“Protesters could seize or blockade any building in Bangkok and nearby areas, which could affect the wellbeing of the public,” said a statement from the army-run Internal Security Operation Command.

The law, which allows authorities to set up checkpoints, impose curfews and limit movement, was originally enforced across eight provinces but was extended in Bangkok and parts of two neighbouring provinces.

After Abhisit left the cabinet meeting, held at a ministry complex on the outskirts of the capital guarded by thousands of military personnel, two small blasts caused minor damage to three cars but no injuries.

“It shows that our politics is getting more violent,” said Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, describing the explosions that come after four similar grenade attacks this month as “shocking.” The red-shirted protesters, loyal to fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, are pushing for snap elections to replace a government they say is undemocratic and represents only the country’s elites.

Their campaign, including dramatic stunts like splashing donated blood on Abhisit home and offices, has passed off

relatively peacefully despite fears of a repeat of riots a year ago that left two dead.