Thai Foreign Ministry warns Thais to avoid travel to Sydney

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BANGKOK, Dec 15 – Thailand’s consulate-general in Sydney warned Thai nationals to avoid travel to Sydney, while Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered the country’s security authorities to follow up the hostage drama in Australia.

The consulate-general announced that this morning two armed men who covered their faces held about 20 people hostage at the Martin Place branch of Lindt Cafe in the heart of Sydney.

Australian police evacuated the vicinity and were handling the situation.

The consulate-general warned Thai people to refrain from visiting the area and leave the center of Sydney because there were bomb threats at many locations there.

Thai consul-general to Sydney Teerathep Promvongsanon said the hostage takers raised black flags with a white inscription in Arabic.

New South Wales police do not think the hostage takers are members of the Islamic State movement but assumed they represented the Shahada group which also supports a militant Jihad movement.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and other authorities told the Australian public not to panic as police put such situations under control and are trying to negotiate.

Mr Teerathep said the Thai consulate-general was advised to close today.

It was reported that Australian authorities told the Thai consulate-general and other nearby government offices to close today for safety.

Gen Prayut said he ordered security authorities to follow up the hostage situation and find out if any Thais were among those being held.

“The situation is a matter [for the] world powers and does not concern Thailand. So I do not want to speak of it much in a way that may affect the country,” the prime minister said.

Gen Prayut said Thai authorities were carefully checking suspects who were passing through the country.

He asked general people to report information regarding any security suspects. He also denied that his own children were in Australia.