The Thai government on Tuesday (January 21) imposed a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding provinces from January 22 to help contain a protest movement that has blockaded parts of the capital in an attempt to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign.

Visarn Techateerawat, the deputy interior minister, announced the emergency after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The emergency decree gives security agencies the power to impose curfews, detain suspects without charge, censor media, ban political gatherings of more than five people and declare parts of the capital off-limits

The news comes as anti-government protesters are suspected to be smuggling weapons and explosives into the capital Bangkok, heightening fears of escalated violence amid political instability in the country.

The intelligence agency found that a section of demonstrators has been bringing explosive devices under cover to the rally sites in a bid to scale up the protests, the powerful Thai army has said.

The military, which has so far remained neutral between the embattled interim administration and the protesters, has, however, not pinpointed the group behind the alleged weapons smuggling.

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