U.S. Embassy urged to avoid anti-government rally in Bangkok

The U.S. Embassy on Thursday advised its citizens to steer clear of a large protest against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra planned to take place in the Thai capital this weekend. Up to 100,000 people are expected at the protest Saturday and there are concerns that pro-government groups might attempt to mix with the crowd, which could lead to violence, the Embassy said in a statement, citing Thai Royal Police.

Sondhi Limthongkul, one of Thaksin's fiercest critics, organized the protest. A media tycoon and one-time supporter of the prime minister, Sondhi has led a vigorous campaign against him, accusing Thaksin's government of widespread corruption and abuse of power.

Sondhi, who has held several large anti-Thaksin rallies in a Bangkok park, has called on supporters to gather Saturday at the statue of King Rama V, which is near Government House, the prime minister's office compound.

"Bangkok demonstrations are usually peaceful in nature but all demonstrations are unpredictable," the Embassy said in the statement that was e-mailed to American citizens living in Thailand. Security was expected to be tight, with about 5,000 police deployed for the rally and an additional 15,000 on standby, said Interior Minister Kongsak Wanthana, reports the AP. I.L.

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