Tight security in the Thai capital before the Southeast Asian summit
BANGKOK: Thailand mobilized more than 17,000 security officers on Friday before a three-day summit of Southeast Asian leaders and other international leaders in Bangkok, protecting themselves against attacks after a dozen explosions spoiled another regional meeting in August.
Several roads surrounding the main meeting place for the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN ) and the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Nonthaburi, north of Bangkok, have been cordoned off since Thursday.
About 5,000 officers are assigned only to the main place, the assistant to the head of the national police, Damrongsak Kittiprapas, told Reuters.
Security is a major concern for the authorities after a series of bomb attacks in Bangkok in August, when the city organized a meeting of foreign ministers from Southeast Asia. The meeting was also attended by important diplomats from the United States, China and other world powers.
No one was killed in August, but four people were injured by attacks that, according to police, were related to internal politics. Suspects arrested or wanted by the police in connection with the attacks have links to the insurgency in the southern Muslim majority of Thailand, which has killed nearly 7,000 since 2004.
We will not allow repeated bomb attacks that took place during the previous international meeting, Damrongsak said.
We are monitoring all risk areas and we are intensifying intelligence gathering, he said. So far, there are no signs of unpleasant activities or threatening movements.
Leaders of the 10 member countries of ASEAN will meet on Saturday and Sunday, and then attend the East Asia Summit on Monday that includes officials from Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United States and Russia.
The Chinese prime minister is confirmed for the East Asia meeting, while the United States has reduced its participation in the summit by sending Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, who will represent the president Donald Trump
International trade and issues such as the South China Sea dispute and the plight of ethnic Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar are some of the issues that are expected to be discussed at the summits.