2 Apr 2015

Turkey safe for travel - official

2:49 pm on 2 April 2015

A Turkish official is reassuring New Zealanders it is safe to travel to Turkey, despite three separate terrorist attacks in Istanbul over the past two days.

At least 2000 New Zealanders will be making the trip to Turkey's Gallipoli peninsula for the centenary commemorations on ANZAC Day this month.

The first counsellor at the Turkish Embassy in Wellington, Aziz Sevi, said those making the trip should not be concerned about their safety.

"Similar terrorist attacks happen everywhere," he said.

"The Turkish police, the Turkish intelligence are very experienced about the these terrorist groups.

"I'm sure they are taking all the measures for the safety and security of the people living in Istanbul and other places in Turkey, as well as the tourist visiting Turkey."

Mr Sevi said the governor of Cannakale - what the Turkish call Gallipoli - was in New Zealand a few days ago and had given assurances that there were safety measures in place for the ANZAC Day ceremonies.

Turkish police special forces take position  after security forces shot dead a female assailant armed with bombs and a gun.

Turkish police special forces take position after security forces shot a female assailant armed with bombs and a gun. Photo: AFP

Four people have died as a result of the attacks in Istanbul.

The Turkish police shot dead a woman carrying guns and hand grenades and detained a man after they tried to attack police headquarters yesterday.

They also arrested a gunmen who entered an Istanbul branch of the ruling political party.

Both attacks came a day after two leftist militants took an Istanbul prosecutor hostage in his office. All three people died during a rescue attempt.

It is not immediately clear whether the attacks were linked.

Australian and New Zealand soldiers take stand during the ceremony celebrating the 99th anniversary of the Anzac Day in Turkey on April 24, 2014.

Australian and New Zealand soldiers during the ceremony celebrating the 99th anniversary of ANZAC Day in Turkey on 24 April 2014. Photo: AFP

Returned and Services Association (RSA) president BJ Clark said he was not overly concerned about safety in Turkey - and nothing would stop him from attending.

"I think any country at times has its issues of stability. But if we tip-toe around, looking over our shoulders all the time, life would be pretty unfortunate," Mr Clark said.

"I have total confidence in the defence group that is flying us over to Gallipoli and will be looking after us whilst we're in the country."

Mr Clark said 25 youth ambassadors were travelling with the RSA, and both the Defence and Veteran's Affairs Ministries would not put them at risk.

RSA president BJ Clark

RSA president BJ Clark: "I have total confidence in the defence group that is flying us over." Photo: SUPPLIED

Prime Minister John Key said he was not aware of Turkey being more dangerous now than it has been before.

He said people should look at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)'s SafeTravel website for advice.

MFAT has not changed its travel advice for the country but said security at Gallipoli would be tight, with attendance passes being checked at a number of points.

It advised against non-essential travel to areas near the borders of Syria, Iran, and Iraq, and said to be cautious while travelling in other parts of Turkey.

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