BANGKOK, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Thailand was declared under martial law on Tuesday in the face of a looming street chaos in the Thai capital.
Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha declared martial rule at 03. 00 a.m. Tuesday with immediate effect throughout the country, but stressed that it was "not a coup."
"Mass gatherings by varied groups of people and recent street violence in which innocent people were killed and injured and property was damaged have shown signs of intensifying into widespread, critical chaos in several areas which might seriously affect national security and public safety," Prayuth said in an ad hoc TV broadcasting Tuesday morning.
He called on the public not to panic while the military will maintain peace and order and will bring the situation to normal in prompt fashion.
Given the Martial Act of 1914, the army chief set up the Peace Keeping Command Centre (PKCC), which all military forces of the army, navy and air force as well as civilian authorities are obliged to follow, and dissolved the caretaker government's Center for the Administration of Peace and Order.
The PKCC, with Prayuth as the chief, issued an order to give the military the power to ban all kinds of news media from publishing, distributing or selling reports and images which could affect peace-keeping operations in the country.
The order, which aims at enabling people from all sides to receive correct information, applies to all printed media, as well as television and radio stations.
The PKCC also shut down 10 satellite TV stations and unlicensed community radio stations of the opposing political sides to prevent inaccurate and distorted news from "creating misunderstanding and intensifying conflicts."
Besides, Prayuth has ordered all government chiefs to report to the army in the afternoon.
He also ordered both anti-government protesters and pro- government "red shirts" to stay put in their respective rally sites and called on them to stop demonstrations.
Soldiers have reportedly surrounded "red shirts" demonstrators in the capital's western outskirt and tried to convince them to stop rallying.
"Red shirts" leader Jatuporn Promphan asked demonstrators not to oppose the troops but vowed to continue rallying.
The anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) canceled the rally planned for Tuesday and core leaders decided to meet first to assess the situation and determine their next move. PDRC co-leader Satit Wingnongtaey said the martial law had no effect on their rally.
No untoward incidents have been reported since the wee hours of Tuesday as yet.