France alerts citizens over Thai tensions

22nd April 2010, Comments 0 comments

France warned Thursday any of its citizens visiting Thailand to stay away from political protests in Bangkok, which it fears may turn violent.

"We advise our compatriots to exercise the utmost caution and in particular not to go to places where there are political gatherings," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a statement.

He expressed concern over stern warnings by Thai army spokesman Sunsern Kaewkumnerd that force could be used in a crackdown against anti-government protestors in Bangkok.

Kaewkumnerd warned Thursday that "time is running out" for protesters to leave their rally site and has also warned that they face tear-gas and live ammunition if new clashes break out with security forces.

The Thai spokesman later softened his stance, saying the government aimed to end the standoff without further bloodshed.

Tens of thousands of red-shirted protesters are occupying an area in central Bangkok, demanding immediate elections.

"We reiterate our call to the authorities and protestors to act responsibly," Valero said. "It is more indispensable than ever for dialogue to prevail over confrontation."

© 2010 AFP

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