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Anti-Coup Protests Continue in Thailand, Despite Ban

Protesters against military rule and soldiers deployed to control them confront each other at Bangkok's shopping district, May 25, 2014.
Security forces are continuing to clash with anti-coup protesters across Thailand, despite the military council's ban on large gatherings.

Soldiers moved in to make arrests Sunday morning in the capital, Bangkok, sparking scuffles and anger among hundreds of demonstrators.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha's junta dissolved the kingdom's partly-elected Senate on Saturday, one day after he named himself prime minister. The army chief says the moves are necessary to restore public order and push through political reforms.

The ruling military also announced Saturday it will continue to detain former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and other ousted government officials for up to a week.

The coup has drawn international criticism. The U.S. Defense Department announced Saturday it is canceling ongoing U.S. military exercises with Thailand, as well as planned visits by U.S. and Thai military officials.

Spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said U.S. law and "democratic principles" require the U.S. to reconsider its military assistance and engagements.

The U.S. had already suspended $3.5 million in military aid to Thailand as a result of the coup.

The U.S. State Department also warned U.S. citizens against non-essential travel to the country.

The Pentagon spokesman Saturday called on the Thai army to end its coup and "restore to the people of Thailand both the principles and the process of democratic rule, including a clear path forward to elections."

Thailand has been wracked by six months of political disputes and sometimes violent demonstrations. A court ordered Ms. Yingluck to step down earlier this month on charges of nepotism.

Her replacement, Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, who had taken over as prime minister on an acting basis, is also reportedly in military custody.

Thailand's army has staged 12 coups in the last 80 years.