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Thailand lifts emergency rule from 3 more provinces, but not Bangkok

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • State of emergency remains in seven provinces
  • The law empowers the military to take over security
  • Thailand imposes the law after anti-government protests
  • Human rights groups have raised concerns

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- Thailand has lifted emergency rule from three more provinces, but not Bangkok, the foreign ministry said Monday.

With the latest revocation, the state of emergency remains in seven provinces, said Thani Thongpakdi, the deputy spokesman for the foreign ministry.

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

The government imposed it in April shortly after anti-government demonstrators broke into the country's parliament.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the rule was meant to "restore peace and order and to stop the spreading of false information to the Thai public."

The country has gradually lifted the decree in provinces where security threats have diminished enough that normal laws should be able to handle them.

Human rights groups have raised concerns.

In a letter to Abhisit in June, Amnesty International said the emergency decree 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 injured in the unrest, which included intense street battles between protesters and government troops.

More than 30 buildings -- including a bank, a police station, a local television station and Thailand's biggest shopping mall -- were set ablaze.

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.