Page last updated at 13:50 GMT, Monday, 13 April 2009 14:50 UK

Britons warned off Bangkok travel

Bangkok protests
Protesters threw petrol bombs at lines of troops carrying riot shields

Britons have been warned against travelling to Bangkok after violent protests erupted in the Thai capital.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British Embassy in Thailand urged those considering a trip to the city or other areas to urgently review their plans.

Thai soldiers were seen firing live rounds into crowds of anti-government protesters amid running battles.

An estimated 40,000 British nationals live in the country and around 900,000 people visit from the UK every year.

The British ambassador to Thailand, Quinton Quayle, said travel advice was being updated as the problems worsened.

'Stay indoors'

"The situation is volatile and unpredictable, and there is a high risk of further bloodshed," he told the BBC.

"In view of that we're erring on the side of caution and saying to British citizens who are thinking of travelling to Bangkok... not to come unless their visit is absolutely essential."

He added that those going to other parts of Thailand should also review their travel plans.

Advice on the FCO website reads: "In view of the deteriorating security situation anyone considering going to Bangkok should urgently review their plans.

"British residents in, and visitors to, Bangkok are advised to avoid any areas where demonstrations are taking place and to stay indoors as far as possible."

It said there were 15 staff members on duty to deal with the situation at the embassy, but no British tourists had reported any incidents so far.

The Thai authorities earlier declared a state of emergency after protests by supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which stopped a major Asian summit in Pattaya.

There were hours of skirmishes on Monday as demonstrators threw petrol bombs and rocks at lines of troops carrying riot shields and automatic weapons, the BBC's Alastair Leithead reported from the scene.

He said many soldiers shot above the protesters' heads, but some clearly fired into the crowd.

Protesters have blocked a number of busy road junctions and at least one railway, and taken buses and two armoured vehicles.

The prime minister has threatened "tough measures" to end the protests and said 70 people had been injured, including 23 soldiers.

A Thai army spokesman said troops were using tear gas in the operation close to the landmark Victory Monument.



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