Chuck Hagel urges Thailand to 'return to democracy'

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has called on Thailand to "return to democracy" during an Asia-Pacific security forum after the military took over control of the government in a coup.

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Politicians and activists 'banned' from leaving Thailand

A masked and armed member of special forces stands behind riot policemen Credit: Reuters

Thailand's military government has banned 155 people including politicians and activists from leaving the country after staging a coup following months of political turmoil, according to a statement read on television.

It said the decision was taken "in order to maintain peace and resolve the conflict". After the coup, soldiers dispersed rival groups of protesters who had set up camp in and around the capital, Bangkok.

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