- ANZAC countries advise caution over Gallipoli -
Australia and New Zealand are advising those planning to make the pilgrimage
to Gallipoli for ANZAC Day commemorations to be highly cautious,
but neither country is going so far as to tell people not to go.
The war in Iraq and threat of terrorist attacks has prompted both countries` foreign affairs departments to advise against travel to south-eastern Turkey, the border area with Iraq, but they are working with the Turkish government in the hope of a trouble-free ANZAC Day on the western peninsula.
Map of Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey
A special team of four Australian and New Zealand security officials flew to Ankara two weeks ago to discuss security with the Turkish government, which is fully responsible for security on Gallipoli.
"We`ll continue to liaise with the Turkish authorities who have overall responsibility for the ANZAC day arrangements and they have been very co-operative," a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spokeswoman told NZPA yesterday.
Australia had not specifically asked for increased security, as reported earlier, she said.
New Zealand updated its travel advisory to Turkey yesterday, warning travellers to be highly cautious, particularly in public areas, which Australia also advises.
"New Zealanders in Turkey should be aware of the heightened risk to westerners and western interests as a result of protest action or acts of violence or terrorism in reaction to the Iraq crisis and should therefore be extra vigilant. We advise against all travel to the border region between Turkey and Iraq and New Zealanders there should consider departure unless they have compelling reasons to stay," says the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs bulletin.
The advice for ANZAC Day could change quickly, whether through developments in the Iraqi war or intelligence about terrorist attacks, and both countries are asking those attending to monitor the websites of their foreign affairs departments.
"Any advice that we have that could change our current travel bulletin on the ANZAC Day arrangements will be immediately reflected in a revision," the DFAT spokeswoman said.
"We are asking people to exercise a high degree of caution, but we are not telling them not to go," she said.
Information from travel agents indicated numbers of Aussies and Kiwis at the commemorations would be down on the 15,000 of last year, which was hardly surprising given the current global situation, she said.
Leading terrorism analyst Ross Babbage said an attack on the dawn service was "definitely a possibility".
"It is a threat that needs to be taken seriously and the Turkish authorities should take precautions to improve security this year," he told The Australian newspaper.
Dr Babbage, who heads the Australian National University strategic and defence studies centre has just returned from a terrorism conference in London. He said
Gallipoli was but one of a host of Western targets at higher risk since the beginning of the war on Iraq.
Turkish authorities are considering extra measures, such as additional lighting, restrictions on entry points, random searches and an increased security presence at the commemoration events, which mark the great losses suffered by Australian and New Zealand troops during the Allied invasion of Turkey.
by Stuff National News
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