How much of a risk is travel to Istanbul?

The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office today issued the following advice on travel to Turkey:

Over 2,500,000 British nationals visit Turkey every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism in Turkey and there are active terrorist groups throughout the country. These include domestic religious extremist and ideological groups, and international groups involved in the conflict in Syria. Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect places visited by foreigners.

The Turkish Government has highlighted the increased risk of attacks in the run-up to the Turkish General Election on 7 June.

One Turkish national was killed following a bombing in the Sisli district of Istanbul on 25 March. Turkish police intercepted a vehicle carrying weapons into Istanbul over the weekend of 21/22 March.

Following a suicide bombing in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul on 6 January, police discovered a number of explosive devices planted in a range of locations across Istanbul during the weekend of 17/18 January. One device exploded but there were no casualties.

Demonstrations

At least 35 people died in violent protests across the country between 7 and 9 October 2014 in response to the situation in Kobane/Tal al Abyad (Syria), with deaths concentrated in Turkey’s south eastern provinces. Demonstrations regularly take place across Turkey, particularly in Istanbul in the area around Taksim Square and in Kadikoy (Asian side), in the Kizilay district of central Ankara and on the waterfront area in central Izmir.

Demonstrations often coincide with important anniversaries and there are likely to be additional security measures in place in major cities on these dates. Police have used tear gas and water cannon extensively to disperse protests.

You should remain vigilant and avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place.

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