Julie Bishop Rules Out Pulling Staff from Turkey

Julie Bishop

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has ruled out pulling out diplomatic staff from Turkey despite the bomb blasts on Sunday raising the perceived threat levels on foreign personnel.

In the blasts, Australia’s ambassador to Turkey James Larsen had a narrow escape. He was barely 20 metres away from the blast site. The envoy’s car was at a busy intersection in Ankara when the bomb exploded killing more than 30 people and injuring hundreds of others.

Julie Bishop said the Aussie envoy is “somewhat shaken” but fully focused on the job. The Foreign minister said all embassy personnel are safe and are unharmed. She said the government constantly reviews the security arrangements of its diplomats posted overseas, reports News Corp.

The Foreign minister ruled out withdrawing diplomatic staff from its embassy in Turkey. “No, we would not,” Bishop told reporters in Fiji. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued an advisory to all Turkey-bound travellers to exercise a “high degree of caution.”

There is no confirmation yet that there were any Australians injured or killed in the blast, the minister said.

“This is a stark reminder of the fact that terrorist attacks can occur at anytime and anywhere,” Bishop added.

The Foreign minister also said Australia would be working closely with Turkish authorities in ensuring that Australians travelling to Gallipoli for Anzac Day are safe. “The heightened security will make it very challenging for travellers,” she said.

Sunday’s blast was the second incident in Ankara’s business centre in less than a month. Meanwhile, Reuters quoted a senior security official, who said,  indications point to the involvement of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) or an affiliated militant group. So far, no group has claimed responsibility.

For Australia’s ambassador to Turkey James Larsen, it was a providential escape, reports Sky News. Larsen was in his car when the bomb went off. The Australian government has condemned the attack.

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