Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday played down any potential link between the arrest of a suspected Islamic State group member in Turkey and the ANZAC commemoration attended by hundreds of Australians and New Zealanders at the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.
Morrison said Australian Defense Force Chief Gen. Angus Campbell, who is representing Australia at the service, had nothing but praise for the work of Turkish police and military to provide security.
A Syrian national was detained in Tekirdag province before the annual gathering for a dawn service at ANZAC Cove to mark the April 25, 1915, landing of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps troops in an ill-fated campaign to take the Dardanelles Straits, according to media reports.
Morrison said the arrest took place three driving hours from of the Gallipoli service.
Anzac Day, held annually on 25 April, is a national day of remembrance across Australia and New Zealand, which commemorates the people who lost their lives or served in wars and conflicts. The day coincides with the first landing of the ANZAC in 1915 at Gallipoli, Turkey, in World War One. Thousands of New Zealanders and Australians travel to Turkey every year for dawn service
- A piper plays the bagpipes during the dawn service at ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula, Canakkale, Turkey.
Concerns about safety at Gallipoli escalated last month when a diplomatic row flared between Turkey and Australia after an Australian was arrested in the killings of 50 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand on March 15.
- Turkish gendarme search people at a security checkpoint as people arrive for the dawn service at ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula, Canakkale, Turkey,.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Australians and New Zealanders going to Turkey with anti-Muslim views would return home in coffins, like their ancestors who fought at Gallipoli.
Morrison slammed the comments as “highly offensive,” but later said tensions had eased after Erdogan’s office explained the president’s words were “taken out of context.”