NONG KHAI —The military has occupied the Thai-Lao border crossing in Nong Khai province in an effort to prevent Redshirt activists from leaving the country.
The Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge was sealed off by a mixture of troops, customs officials, and immigration police, shortly after the military seized power from the government yesterday afternoon.
At around 6:00 pm yesterday, soldiers began manning the arrival and departure sections of the border checkpoint. Military personnel said they were under orders to prevent "important" leaders of the Redshirt movement from leaving the country. They did not say which leaders soldiers were instructed to look for.
Traffic across the border was allowed to continue with severe restrictions. Thai commuters were not allowed to leave the country, and foreigners were not permitted to enter. Soldiers at the checkpoint said they were ordered to stay until a change was announced by the central command.
The news of the border shutdown caused panic among Laotian tourists and residents on the Thai side of the border. Laotian motorists made way to the border in droves, causing massive a traffic jam near the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge.
Laotians who have appointments at hospitals in Nong Khai province would still be allowed across the border, soldiers said.
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