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Wednesday, March 16, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

West warns nationals in Bahrain to be ready
to evacuate

ABU DHABI — Western embassies have instructed their nationals to remain on alert in Bahrain.


Western diplomatic sources said the embassies of most European Union states have urged their nationals to stay away from many areas of Bahrain amid unprecedented Shi'ite unrest. The embassies also warned that their citizens should be prepared to leave the Gulf Cooperation Council kingdom immediately.

"Australians are advised not to travel to Bahrain due to the unpredictable security situation and threat of terrorist attack," the Australian Foreign Ministry said.

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The sources said many EU nationals were warned to stay at home during the confrontation between the Sunni kingdom and the Shi'ite majority. They said the arrival of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could increase the prospect of bloodshed.

"Following an increase in protests over recent days, confrontations between protestors and police on Sunday 13th March, reports of protesters establishing roadblocks, and reports that the Bahraini Government has invited fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members to deploy forces to help them preserve law and order, we also advise British nationals currently in Bahrain to remain at home until further notice," the British Foreign Office said. "The risk of a further outbreak of violence has increased."

More than 4,500 GCC troops have already arrived in Bahrain, which declared a three-month state of emergency. The Bahraini military said the third batch of troops from the GCC's Peninsula Shield arrived on March 15 and would protect Bahraini facilities.

EU and other nationals have also been warned to stay away from major highways, which could be blocked by the protesters. The diplomats said the international airport in Manama remained open.

The demonstrations have also paralyzed much of the government and diplomatic community. The diplomats said this has affected foreigners who applied for visas and passports from their embassies.

"The embassy will work hard to ensure that those with urgent travel are accommodated and would like to request those without immediate travel plans to defer their applications until the situation has normalized," the Philippine embassy said.

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