ANKARA- Following recent terror attacks and political unrest resulting in an attempted military coup in Turkey, Australian holidaymakers have been urged to remain vigilant in the area.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the government has updated its travel advice warning Australians to exercise a high degree of caution and reconsider plans to travel to the area.
“Australians in Turkey should be vigilant, monitor media, follow the directions of local authorities and advise friends and family in Australia that they are safe,” she said.
Ms Bishop has been in contact with Australia’s ambassador in Ankara, James Larsen as they continue to assess the situation in the country.
Australians in Turkey, especially Istanbul and Ankara where the majority of unrest is occurring, have been urged to stay indoors and avoid large crowds and demonstrations.
They have also been reminded to check their flight times regularly with Istanbul’s largest airport, Ataturk, one of the busiest in the world, closed twice in less than a month.
No Australians appear to have been injured in the recent attacks and demonstrations.
However, family and friends are urged to try contacting loved ones in Turkey directly or contact DFAT if they have serious concerns for their welfare.
At the end of last month Istanbul was rocked by another major terrorist attack, this time targeted at Ataturk airport.
At least 40 people died and more than 230 were injured when three bombs exploded in the arrival and departure terminals and one of the car parks.
It was the sixth major terrorist attack in Turkey this year.
Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull condemned the attacks, adding that many Australians knew the airport well, with thousands travelling there each year to Gallipoli.
‘This is a very sad day for the people who love freedom, as we do and as the Turkish people do,” he said.
And just last week Ankara and Istanbul again descended into chaos when a faction of the nation’s military attempted to overthrow President Erdogan, who was on holiday at the time.
Soldiers closed the bridge over the Bospherous River into Istanbul and stationed tanks outside Ataturk airport and across the city.
They also took over the state broadcaster live-on-air and forced a newsreader to read a prepared statement declaring military control and imposing martial law.
President Erdogan responded via video call urging his supporters to go out onto the streets in defiance.
Violent clashes ensued in both cities between the president’s supporters, police and the military.
At least 290 people were killed and hundreds more injured.
As the government regained control 8000 officers were removed and over 6000 arrested.
Their fate is yet to be determined, but foreign leaders have urged Turkey’s leader to show restraint and proportionality while still sending a strong message.
Australia has a strong relationship with Turkey, a strategic ally with important intelligence links in the coalition against ISIL.
Around 280 Australians are registered as being in Istanbul, however that number is likely to be higher in reality.
DFAT 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre: 1300 555 135
Calling from overseas?: +612 6261 3305
– Viki Gerova, Correspondent (Oceania)
Image Courtesy: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (https://flic.kr/p/kYynzL), Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic | Flickr