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Australians urged to reconsider trips to Bahrain

Australia told travellers to reconsider trips to Bahrain on Saturday after security forces opened fire on demonstrators in escalating protests against the governing regime.

world Updated: Feb 19, 2011 13:47 IST

Australia told travellers to reconsider trips to Bahrain on Saturday after security forces opened fire on demonstrators in escalating protests against the governing regime.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the situation in Bahrain had deteriorated, and there were also worrying developments in Libya. Protests are rising in the Middle East after the toppling of Egypt's long-term ruler last week.

"We have seen clear reports of fatalities among protesters and a large number of injuries as well," Rudd told reporters in Sydney.

"The travel advisory for Bahrain now reads that Australians should reconsider their need to travel due to the unpredictable security situation as a result of recent clashes between protesters and government security forces."

Rudd also called on Bahrain to respect its people's right to demonstrate peacefully. The foreign affairs department estimates there are 1,000 Australians in the tiny, oil-rich kingdom.

A Bahrain opposition MP said 55 people were wounded in firing by security forces on Friday. Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa promised to open a sweeping national dialogue once calm returns.