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Thailand ends emergency rule in 6 provinces, but not in Bangkok

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Abhisit had imposed the order in April "to restore peace and order"
  • The law empowers the military to take charge of security
  • Human rights groups oppose it

(CNN) -- The Thai government has ended emergency rule in six provinces, but not in Bangkok, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva imposed it in April, shortly after Red Shirt anti-government demonstrators broke into the country's parliament, "to restore peace and order and to stop the spreading of false information to the Thai public."

Earlier this month, officials had said they were extending for three more months the state of emergency to 19 provinces.

But, at the same time, the government also revoked emergency rule in five other provinces where security threats had diminished.

The emergency law empowers the military to take charge of security.

Human rights groups have raised concerns about the emergency decree.

Amnesty International has said it restricts free expression and "essentially codifies immunity from prosecution for officials who committed human rights violations so long as they can claim to have done so within the section's broad terms."

More than 80 people died and 1,500 others were wounded in the unrest, which included street battles between protesters and government troops. More than 30 buildings -- including a bank, a police station, a television station and Thailand's biggest shopping mall -- were torched.

The Red Shirt opposition members support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006. They protested for weeks, demanding that Abhisit dissolve parliament and call new elections.

CNN's Dan Rivers contributed to this story.