Bangkok embassies shut in face of protest measures

Bangkok (ANTARA News/AFP) - Some foreign embassies in the Thai capital closed early Thursday after the military warned it would seal off thousands of anti-government "Red Shirt" protesters at a nearby site.

Officials from the US, British, and Dutch embassies suspended visa services after the army said it would surround the area with armoured vehicles from 6:00 pm (1100 GMT) to stop more demonstrators entering.

"Taking into account which roads are going to be closed, we made the determination to suspend visa services because it would be difficult for Thai citizens to make appointments," said US embassy press attache Michael Turner.

A Thai foreign ministry briefing Thursday suggested embassies and companies operating in and around the rally area should make arrangements to move out, as authorities planned to seal the area and eventually cut utilities.

A British embassy spokeswoman said visa and consular services would be closed Friday and officials would review the situation daily until reopening.

An official at the Netherlands mission said it had notified its local citizens that it expected Thai authorities to seal off the commercial district occupied by protesters and "we recommend everybody to avoid that area."

Twenty-nine people have been killed and almost 1,000 injured in Bangkok in a series of confrontations and attacks since the protests began in mid-March. It is Thailand`s worst political violence in almost two decades.

Finland moved its embassy in Bangkok to temporary premises last month due to security concerns over the protests near its mission.

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