Suruc bombing: Is it safe to travel in Turkey following suicide attack?

After 28 were killed in a bombing in the eastern town of Suruc, is it still safe to travel to Turkey?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Turkey plays host to thousands of British tourists each year, but the bombing in the border town of Suruc may make some travellers nervous.

The horrific bombing killed at least 28 people and wounded 100 more. It is believed to have been carried out by Isis, happened in the middle of the day outside a cultural centre in Suruc, which is about 10km (six miles) from the Syrian border.

Speaking to Reuters, a senior Turkish official said they believed the attack was a "retaliation for the Turkish government's efforts to fight terrorism."

Cross-border attacks are not unheard of in Turkey, and the ominous quote from the official will be on the mind of tourists visiting the country in the coming months.

However, the vast majority of places in Turkey are perfectly safe to visit, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can offer advice on travel to any prospective visitors.

What does the Foreign Office say?

All of Turkey is currently subject to varying levels of Foreign Office travel advice.

They encourage all visitors to read their travel advice before travelling, wherever they are in the country - this reflects the fact there is a heightened risk of terrorism across the country than there is in other European countries. However, this warning does not mean they advise against travel.

There are two areas that are subject to travel advice. The Foreign Office advises against travelling to the entire area within 10km of the Syrian border. The area further back from the border, in the Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis and Hatay provinces also potentially dangerous, and the Foreign Office discourages against all but essential travel there.

Barring essential travel, going to Tunceli province in in the eastern part of the country is also discouraged - this area is home to a large Kurdish population, and in the past has experienced attacks from Kurdish seperatists.

Referring to terrorism from Isis and other, domestic militant groups, the Foreign Office says: "attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect places visited by foreigners."

Are there any other dangers?

While anti-government unrest, like we saw in 2013, is less common in Turkey now, disruptive demonsrations regularly take place across the nation.

Taksim Square in Istanbul is the symbolic focal point of the whole country, and has in the past played host to huge and dangerous demonstations.

In Izmir and Ankara, two other major cities, demonstrations are also common. In all of these places, police have been known to use tear gas and water cannons to get rid of protesters.

It should be easy to avoid large demonstrations as a tourist, and the Foreign Office advises that Brits keep away when visiting, to avoid trouble with the police or possible injury.

While Isis is the latest problem, there are other groups that have used terrorist tactics in the past. As a result, there is a "high threat" from terrorism in Turkey.

The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party Front (DHKP-C) has attacked Istanbul with bombs this year - a female suicide bomber killed herself and a police officer when she attacked a police station in Istanbul in January.

The attack came just a week after the DHKP-C used a grenade to attack the Prime Minister's office in the city. Both of these attacks took place in areas of Istanbul popular with tourists, although none were injured in either.

What's the risk?

Given the speed with which the Foreign Office updates their travel advice following incidents, taking their pointers should help keep tourists out of danger.

Around 41 million tourists visit Turkey every year, around 2.5 million of them British. The overwhelming majority of these come back totally unscathed, apart from possibly some sunburn.

The attack on Suruc was horrific, but the expert view is that there shouldn't be a problem if you stay out of dangerous areas.