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Swiss stuck in Bangkok as hopes rise for peace

At least one Swiss national is holed up in an area of Bangkok where fighting between pro Thai-government forces and the Red Shirt opposition is taking place.

Swiss ambassador to Thailand Christine Schraner Burgener told Swiss radio on Tuesday that the embassy had advised the man to stay inside and away from windows.

“The whole night we heard grenades exploding and gunfire exchanges, including away from the occupied neighbourhoods,” she said.

The Swiss embassy has tried to send text messages to 1,400 Swiss citizens in the city warning them to stay away from the trouble zones. Some 6,300 Swiss are registered with the embassy in Thailand.

Hopes rose on Tuesday for an end to the two-month political crisis as leaders of the protest movement said they would unconditionally accept an offer by the country’s Senate to mediate talks. However, the government said later in the day negotiations could only take place after an end to the anti-government rally.

Scattered clashes were continuing between soldiers and anti-government Red Shirt protestors, though apparently at a lower level than in previous days. At least 37 people have been killed over five days of rioting and clashes in the city of ten million people.

Last week the embassy closed as fighting intensified and workers took refuge in a hotel with their families. The building is located in the immediate vicinity of the city’s business district that demonstrators have blocked off.

The foreign ministry is discouraging tourist and non-essential travel to Bangkok but says connecting flights via Bangkok are still possible.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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