US diplomats in Bahrain move to calmer areas
Manama, January 25, 2012
American diplomats in Bahrain said they are being relocated out of troubled areas, adding that months of severe traffic disruption and violence made it impossible for some people to leave their homes.
A US Embassy spokesman said the decision had been prompted by anti-government demonstrations that often descended into violence.
Embassy personnel living on the Budaiya Highway have now been ordered to relocate to other areas of the country for their own safety.
"Demonstrations throughout the country have degenerated on several occasions into violence, resulting in injuries and property damage," the spokesman said. "We expect that planned and spontaneous demonstrations will continue.”
"While demonstrations and violence have not been directed towards Westerners, the department's paramount concern is the security and personal safety of all US citizens abroad and we share with embassy staff the responsibility for ensuring the security of members of the entire official American community,” he added.
"The department urges US citizens to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security."
The spokesman said the inability of people to leave their homes for extended periods was not only an inconvenience, but also posed safety and security concerns.
News of the embassy staff relocation was announced by the US Department of State on Monday.
In a travel advisory it warns of violent anti-government demonstrations that have included "blockades of major highways, trash can fires, and establishment of unofficial checkpoints", adding that "participants have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and used various other homemade weapons".
"The US Embassy restricts its employees from travelling to specific areas and advises all US citizens to do the same," it says.
"The recent increase in violent demonstrations along the Budaiya Highway corridor has led to traffic disruptions, effectively restricting travel for those living in the area. The resulting inability to leave one's home for an extended period poses significant safety and security concerns.
"As a result, embassy employees and their dependents are being relocated to different neighbourhoods. We continue to urge US citizens to follow the latest security guidance and to avoid demonstrations."
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office also updated its travel advisory for Britons travelling to Bahrain on Monday, although no travel restrictions were included.
It warns of attempts to disrupt normal life and urges people to remain vigilant.
"You should maintain a high level of security awareness, exercise caution, particularly in public places and on the roads and avoid large crowds and demonstrations," it states. – TradeArabia News Service