Emergency ruled ended in three Thai provinces

A Thai soldier stands guard at Government House, Bangkok (25 May 2010)
Image caption The state of emergency remains in place in the protest-hit capital, Bangkok

Thai authorities have lifted a state of emergency in three northern provinces, two months after crushing weeks of anti-government protests in Bangkok.

An official said emergency rule would end in Lampang, Roi Et and Sakon Nakhon because there was no unrest there.

But he said the laws would remain in Bangkok and in 15 other provinces.

The laws ban public gatherings of more than five people and give security forces the right to detain suspects for 30 days without charge.

Emergency rule was introduced during anti-government protests in Bangkok earlier this year which left 90 people dead.

It was lifted in five provinces on 6 July but extended elsewhere for another three months.

Rights groups and foreign diplomats have urged the Thai government to end emergency rule as soon as possible, while critics say authorities are using the laws to clamp down on the protest movement.

But the government has argued it needs the laws in place to prevent further violence.

"The lifting (in the three provinces) is because there's no movement or any sign that could lead to unrest, and the government has adequate security forces to maintain a peaceful situation," deputy government spokesman Supachai Jaisamut said.

"The government continues to impose the state of emergency in 16 provinces because there is some movement there," he said.