Message for Aussies at Gallipoli

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 13 April 2015 | 20.01

Australian spies have been sent to Turkey ahead of Anzac Day celebrations amid heightened security concerns.

AUSTRALIAN authorities insist the Gallipoli peninsula will be one of the safest places to be in Turkey in a fortnight's time despite reports the Anzac commemorations could be a high-value target for terrorists.

Gallipoli services director Tim Evans says the 8200 Australians attending the dawn service at North Beach and the later memorial at Lone Pine should be "alert but not alarmed".

"I think attending the services will probably be one of the safest places you can be in Turkey on April 24 and 25," Mr Evans told AAP.

"There is no expectation that Australians themselves, and particularly Australians attending the commemorative event, represent a target.

"So any Australian that goes to Gallipoli should be reasonably confident that they are attending a service that is well secured, in an area of Turkey where the threat level to Australians is nowhere near as high as it might be in the more easterly areas of the country."

Last week an intelligence source said Anzac Day at Gallipoli would be a "high-value target" for Islamic State terrorists who have seized large parts of neighbouring Syria and Iraq. ASIO, ASIS and Australian Federal Police officers have been deployed to Turkey in recent weeks.

Mr Evans wouldn't comment on that report but stressed Turkish authorities were responsible for securing the peninsula.

More than 8000 Australians are expected to attend ANZAC Day commemorations in Turkey. Pictured, Sam Worthington in Deadline Gallipoli. Picture: Matt Nettheim. Source: Supplied

It's expected there'll be 4000 Turkish jandarma and national police present — an increase of 40 per cent on previous years — as well as the coast guard and at least 1000 soldiers from the 2nd army corps.

"They take their responsibilities very seriously and the number of security personnel will be much larger this year than in previous years," Mr Evans said from Turkey.

"The Turks are quite properly alert to the high-profile and larger number of guests they've got." Prince Charles and Prince Harry will attend the international and Commonwealth services on April 24 as well as the Australian and New Zealand commemorations on April 25.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will be on the peninsula along with his New Zealand counterpart, John Key, and other high-profile leaders from the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Turkey itself.

"The Turks are well-practised at this," Mr Evans said.

"They've been effectively undertaking dress rehearsals for the last couple of years and reached a fairly high standard last year. "We've got well-established practices that have been developed between Turkey, Australia and New Zealand over a number of years." Lessons have been learnt after an incident in 2013 when dual Turkish-Australian national Ali Riza Ersoy started yelling during the dawn service and rushed the main stage.

It took minutes for Turkish authorities to intervene and manhandle the then 65-year-old protester out of the commemorative site.

Mr Evans, a Department of Veterans' Affairs assistant secretary who's been services director since 2010, says there'll be an additional screening point this year for the 100th anniversary. Attendees will pass through airport-style screening, including bag searches, at a new holding area at Mimoza Park some 3.5km before North Beach and then again, as per previous years, at the dawn service commemorative site itself and when entering Lone Pine. "To quote a previous Australian prime minister (John Howard) I think people should be alert but not alarmed," Mr Evans said. "One should not be blase but this is a very well-planned event." The services director urged visitors to still be careful, keep an eye on the news and register on the Department of Foreign Affairs' Smartraveller website.

Tanya Chalker- Holz will attend the ceremony. Picture Waide Maguire. Source: News Corp Australia


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