Hong Kong: The U.S. government on Thursday stepped up its warnings to travelers to Hong Kong because of increasing violence surrounding pro-democracy protests in the Chinese city. The State Department’s Level 2 travel advisory issued Thursday urges “increased caution in Hong Kong due to civil unrest” and tells travelers to avoid demonstrations and to “exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.” The protests were sparked two months ago by proposed extradition legislation that could have seen suspects sent to mainland China where they could face torture and unfair politicized trial. They have since morphed into calls for broader democratic reforms in the former British colony, along with the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and investigations into alleged police abuse of force. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe territory’s crucial travel industry has suffered as tourists put off their visits, with Australia, Ireland, Britain, and Japan having also issued travel advisories to their citizens. Hong Kong police say a total of 589 people have been arrested in the protests since June 9, ranging in age from 13 to 76. They face charges including rioting, which allows for prison terms of up to 10 years. Protests have seen police firing tear gas, rubber bullets and other projectiles, with demonstrators responding with sharpened metal sticks, lobbed bricks, petrol bombs and carts full of burning debris. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsOn several occasions, protesters have also been attacked by unknown persons believed to be linked to organized crime groups, while police took little action to stop them. The central government in Beijing has so far has not visibly intervened in the situation, though in editorials and public remarks it has condemned demonstrators and protest organizers as criminals, clowns and “violent radicals” and alleged that they have been inflamed by politicians from the U.S., Taiwan and elsewhere.