U.S. issues Thailand travel warning

The U.S. State Department on Saturday issued a travel warning for Thailand, due to political demonstrations and unrest in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

"Due to escalating violence in central Bangkok — including gunfire near the U.S. Embassy, demonstrations in Chiang Mai and other incidents throughout Thailand — U.S. citizens should defer all travel to Bangkok and defer all nonessential travel to the rest of Thailand," the State Department said. 

The State Department authorized the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and eligible family members from Bangkok.

The U.S. Embassy, including visa operations, was closed on May 14 and will be closed on Monday, May 17. If security issues persist, the U.S. Embassy may remain closed, said the State Department.

Three days of street battles in Bangkok between the Thai army and anti-government protestors, also known as the red shirts, have left at least 35 people dead and 244 wounded, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

Early on Sunday in Bangkok, the luxury hotel Dusit Thani came under gunfire, and a loud blast was heard as guests rushed to shelter in the basement, the Herald said.

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