Caretaker PM tries to fight back
Shortly after receiving news of an attempted coup in Bangkok caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra gathered reporters representing the Thai news media to his New York hotel at about 9pm Thai time.
He told them he had been informed of the coup attempt and was about to address the nation via an Internet broadcast on staterun television Channel 9. He would declare a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, in Bangkok soldiers were seen surrounding the Thaicom satellite receiving station at Khae Rai at about 9.30pm. Another group of troops seized control of staterun television staŽtion Channel 11.
Tanks and personnel carriers were observed on Rajdamnoen Avenue and its nearby vicinity surprising onlookers.
Troops were deployed at the Tevet Intersection and at the resiŽdence of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda for his security.
By press time this morning tanks and military vehicles armed with machine guns were stationed at Government House, the Royal Plaza and government units along Rajdamnoen Avenue.
At Government House, reporters were asked to leave the building and remain outside while Cabinet secretarygeneral Prommin Lertsuridej and Deputy Prime Minister Chidchai Vanasatidya rushed in.
As news of the attempted coup spread, senior military commanders met at Armyrun television Channel 5 headquarters. It was suspected they were preparing to announce the coup.
A group of pro-Thaksin officers, meanwhile, reportedly met at the home of Defence Minister Thamarak Isarangura.
At about 10.30pm, a bus loaded with soldiers from the 11th Military Police Battalion arrived at Government House. Their comŽmander spent about five minutes negotiating with the security staff before the troops were allowed inside without any resistance.
Sources said troops participating in the coup were from the 1st and 3rd Army Regions, the Internal Security Operations Command, the Special Warfare Centre and Army units in Nakhon Ratchasima and Prachin Buri provinces and sections of the Navy.
Before announcing his state of emergency Thaksin had decided to return home ahead of schedule and should be back in the country by tomorrow. However, his movements in the event of a successful coup remained uncertain.
Sources said Thamarak and Mass Communication Organisation of Thailand director Mingkwan Saengsuwan, who oversees television Channel 9, were detained by troops following the broadcast of Thaksin's announceŽment.
Soldiers wearing yellow identification cloth on their fatigues above the right breast seized the station.