US Embassy offers to evacuate families of staff in Bangkok; urges citizens to stay away

Saturday, May 15, 2010

US Embassy offers evacuation of families of staff

BANGKOK — The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok is offering to evacuate family members of its staff in the volatile Thai capital and has issued a travel warning advising American citizens to stay away.

Embassy spokeswoman Cynthia Brown says the State Department has “authorized the voluntary departure” of relatives of its employees in Bangkok and “will provide financial assistance” for their travel.

Brown says the U.S. also issued a “travel warning advising all citizens to defer travel to Bangkok.”

Until Saturday, the U.S. had placed Bangkok under a “travel alert” that advised citizens to defer nonessential travel.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BANGKOK (AP) — The Thai army has designated an area in central Bangkok as a “live firing zone” in a warning to protesters and local residents.

Soldiers unrolled razor wire across roads leading to the Ratchaprarop area Saturday and pinned Thai and English-language notices saying “Live Firing Zone” and “Restricted Area. No Entry.”

The signs indicate soldiers may shoot protesters still hiding there.

Ratchaprarop is a mostly commercial area with high-rise buildings, hotels, and shops. It was the scene of some of the worst fighting Friday night between troops and Red Shirt anti-government protesters.

Explosions and street fighting have killed 16 people and wounded nearly 160 since Thursday in central Bangkok.

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