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Thai army checkpoints get makeover

Vehicles moved past an Army bunker Friday in Bangkok. Checkpoints have been decorated to allay civilians’ fears.

Sakchai Lalit/Associated Press

Vehicles moved past an Army bunker Friday in Bangkok. Checkpoints have been decorated to allay civilians’ fears.

BANGKOK, Thailand — Military checkpoints set up in Thailand’s capital to keep security during the country’s political unrest are getting a makeover in a bid to project a more low-key image, the army said Friday.

Major General Wara Boonyasit, a division commander, said soldiers have decorated some bunkers with colorful flowers and potted plants after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra suggested that the 176 checkpoints around Bangkok may be unnerving residents and scaring foreign tourists.

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Soldiers were deployed in force around the capital last week after a spate of armed attacks on antigovernment demonstrators who are demanding Yingluck’s resignation. While the violence has eased, two people were slightly wounded Friday by gunshots fired from a park in the heart of Bangkok that is occupied by the protesters, police said.

Wara said checkpoints — some of which have been decorated with flowerpots — would also be relocated to less prominent locations to become less obtrusive.

Army Commander General Prayuth Chan-ocha acknowledged the image-softening effort, joking Thursday that the bunkers might even be decorated with pink curtains. But he insisted that soldiers retain their tough military bearing and not act like theatrical performers.

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