Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Tight security for Anzac Day in Gallipoli amidst high terror alert

Crowds flocking to Anzac Cove for the Anzac Day dawn service on the Gallipoli Peninsula this year face strict security screening.
Crowds flocking to Anzac Cove for the Anzac Day dawn service on the Gallipoli Peninsula this year face strict security screening.

Gallipoli pilgrims attending Anzac Day commemorations in Turkey next month face strict security screening and will be banned from taking backpacks, umbrellas, folding chairs, water bottles and selfie sticks.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has warned Kiwis of a "high risk" in travelling to the two main Turkish cities and travel hubs, Istanbul and Ankara, "due to the heightened threat of terrorism and potential for civil unrest".

A state of emergency declared by the Turkish government after an unsuccessful military coup attempt last July remains in force.

Security has been enhanced at airports with additional identification checks and documentation requirements introduced.

In the past year, there has been an increase in attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, including on New Year's Day when a shooting attack at a central Istanbul nightclub killed 39 people and injured 69.

In December, the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated in a municipal art gallery in Ankara just days after a series of explosions near Besiktas Stadium in Istanbul killed 38 people and injured many more.

And on June 28 last year, an armed attack and series of suicide bombings occurred at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport, killing at least 45 people, including many civilians and foreign nationals.

"Further attacks in Ankara and Istanbul in the near future are expected," according to MFAT's advice on its SafeTravel site.

"The terrorist groups ISIL, TAK and PKK, who have claimed responsibility for a number of recent attacks, have shown the intent to conduct further attacks, including in areas frequented by foreigners."

The heightened terror threat means tight security measures for those attending the Anzac Day commemorative services on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

There is no ballot for this year's services, including the dawn service and New Zealand service at Chunuk Bair, but attendees must apply online for an attendance pass.

When they get to the historic battlefield, they will face international airport-style screening.

Liquid, aerosol or gel products must be in containers of 100mm or less, while each person is only allowed one bag.

The list of prohibited items is comprehensive and includes large backpacks, folding chairs, umbrellas, musical instruments, hiking or walking sticks, large cameras, selfie sticks, drones and alcohol.

Bottles of liquid, opened or unopened, are also banned, with water available for free at the memorial sites.

While a maximum-capacity crowd of 10,500 flocked for the centenary commemorations two years ago, it's expected that only a few thousand will attend this year.

The increased security threat, with some areas of Turkey close to the Syrian border carrying an extreme travel risk, will also see many Kiwis and Australians stay away this year.

"While most recent terrorist attacks in Turkey have targeted Turkish government institutions and security forces, increasingly attacks have occurred in tourist areas and locations frequented by foreigners, resulting in deaths and injuries," the Safe Travel advice says.

"Attacks could occur anywhere in Turkey, including in Izmir, Adana, other major centres, tourist areas and along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts."

SafeTravel is expected to post specific Gallipoli travel advice on its website later this week.

- NZ Herald

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