Terrorism

A number of incidents in 2016 illustrated the increased danger of terrorist attacks in Turkey, with jihadis linked to the Islamic State (Isis) group entering the country from war-torn Syria and Iraq and perpetrating horrible attacks on both locals and tourists. The terrorist group, often referred to as Daesh in Turkey, stated that at least two of the attacks were aimed at harming Turkey's tourist industry, in retaliation for the country's active role in the US coalition against Isis.

Other attacks have been undertaken by the TAK (Freedom of Kurdistan, also known as the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons or Hawks), a splinter group from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). There is ongoing fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK, after peace talks faltered and a two-year ceasefire ended in 2015. The PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by the USA and the EU, wants greater rights and autonomy for Turkey's Kurdish population. Despite TAK's bombs in Ankara and İstanbul, attacks by the PKK and splinter groups still generally happen far from travellers' routes in remote parts of mountainous southeastern Anatolia, and target the Turkish military and government. However, check the latest situation if visiting southeastern Anatolia, as fighting has been seen in urban areas such as Diyarbakır.

At the time of writing, the US Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs advised of a high threat from terrorism in Turkey and advised US citizens to reconsider their travel to Turkey and totally avoid travelling to the country's southeast. The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office advised caution at all times and warned against travel within 10km of the Syrian border and to Diyarbakır. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advised its citizen to exercise a high degree of caution throughout the country, and reconsider travel to İstanbul, Ankara and the southeast. However, it is worth remembering that, as with the atrocities seen in Western cities, these attacks are random; the chance of being caught in an incident is statistically low, so keep things in perspective amid the media coverage. The terrorists want to create a climate of fear and uncertainty, so do not fall into their trap; instead, weigh up the situation cautiously but rationally when deciding whether to visit. Once in Turkey, always avoid political rallies and large gatherings of people.

Do not visit areas in close proximity to the Syrian border, which are the most dangerous parts of Turkey. Here, there is the risk of being caught in the Turkish-Kurdish conflict and of being kidnapped or harmed by terrorists from Syria.