Travel advice unchanged despite terror warning for Bangkok

Australia has not altered its travel warnings for Thailand in response to warnings by US authorities about the increased chances of terrorist attacks in Bangkok.

The United States on Friday warned of a terrorist threat against tourists "in the near future" in the Thai capital.

This followed an announcement by Thai authorities that they had detained a Lebanese man with suspected links to the Hezbollah militant group.

"Foreign terrorists may be currently looking to conduct attacks against tourist areas in Bangkok in the near future," the US embassy in Bangkok says in an emergency message posted on its website.

"US citizens are urged to exercise caution when visiting public areas where large groups of Western tourists gather in Bangkok."

A Thai senior intelligence officer who did not want to be named said that Israel had warned the kingdom last month of a possible threat.

The suspect was detained on Thursday while the other man had already fled the country, he said.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung sasid by telephone that the detained suspect was being questioned by the Thai authorities.

"We already have one suspect in custody for interrogation at a government building in Bangkok. He is a Hezbollah from Lebanon," he said.


"I want to assure people that there is nothing to worry about. The police will take care of the situation and everything will be under control."

A spokeswoman for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said its travel advice for Thailand already advises Australians to "exercise a high degree of caution" because of the threat of terrorist attack.

This applied particularly in the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla, where tourists were advised not to travel.

She said the overall level of travel advice for Thailand had not changed as a result of the US warning.

"We encourage all Australians in Thailand to read and subscribe to the travel advice and to register their details though on," she said.

The warning is another blow to Thailand's tourist-friendly image, which was badly dented last year by devastating flooding across much of the country, as well as rounds of rival political protests in recent years.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters that authorities in the kingdom had the current situation under control.

"I would like to tell our people and tourists that there is nothing to worry about," she said.