24 Apr 2017

Airport-level security at Gallipoli for Anzac Day

5:36 am on 24 April 2017

New Zealanders attending Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli this year will face airport-level security restrictions after a warning terrorists could target the events.

A New Zealand flag being held at a memorial service in April 2015 in front of Ataturk Memorial on Chunuk Bair near Anzac Cove in Gallipoli.

A New Zealand flag being held at a memorial service in April 2015 in front of Ataturk Memorial on Chunuk Bair near Anzac Cove in Gallipoli. Photo: AFP

Defence Force staff at the event say the Turkish government is taking the matter seriously and security arrangements are incredibly tight.

This month, the government updated its travel advisory for Turkey, advising New Zealanders to be cautious at the events and highly vigilant in public places.

The Defence Force is expecting up to 1000 New Zealanders to attend the events this year.

Its New Zealand commemorations lead for Gallipoli, John McLeod, is in Turkey for 10 days ahead getting all the infrastructure in place.

Speaking from Chunuk Bair at Gallipoli, he said the peninsula was now essentially closed down by the Turkish authorities and everyone who wanted to get in had to go through a series of security checks for each event.

"We are talking about airport-level security, X-ray machines, and there will be various bomb searches. People will have to get rid of their liquids, aerosols and gels, before they move into each of the sites."

Mr McLeod said the Turkish government was aware the event was high-profile and clearly did not want any incidents.

He said he felt utterly and completely safe on the peninsula.

"The security arrangements are incredibly tight and it does feel really really safe. So this morning, just to get on to the peninsula, we're into now checkpoints, accreditation and so on.

"We're having our final rehearsal this morning up at Chunuk Bair, there's gendarme, the local police who are responsible for the peninsula, they are everywhere."

Phil Lascelles has been volunteering at Gallipoli since 2015, to help provide visitor services on the site.

Speaking from Lone Pine on the Turkish peninsula he said he and his colleagues were taking precautions this year.

"We're a little bit more careful, you know because of the [advisories] and so we've got a security guard with us all the time.

"Just coming out of the hotel this morning we just noticed that there was a lot more soldiers and police around than there had been earlier in the week.

"I think they are very conscious of [the threats] but out on the actual day I think we're going to have the same kind of security as we had [in 2015] - airport security scanners and that kind of stuff."

Caucus run 21/07/15

Amy Adams Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Senior Minister Amy Adams is attending the commemorations on behalf of the New Zealand government.

She said the Turks were very experienced and careful hosts.

"We certainly have a high degree of confidence that this year will be no different in that respect, but for New Zealanders going it always makes good sense to register their intentions to be there on the safe travel website."

RSA national president BJ Clark said people attending the events should be cautious.

"I'd just ask them to be careful, just keep an eye on what's going on around them.

"Unfortunately, this society we're living in today where there are threats made against any sort of public events, and this one had right from 2015 there [has been] the same issue."

The government said New Zealanders throughout Turkey should exercise a high degree of vigilance in public places. It said people should keep themselves informed of potential risks to safety and security by keeping an eye on the media and other local information sources, and follow instructions issued by the authorities at all times.

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