US Embassy in Turkey warns citizens ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations

US Embassy in Turkey warns citizens ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations

US Embassy in Turkey warns citizens ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations

AFP photo

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara has warned its citizens to be vigilant during upcoming holidays and New Year’s Eve celebrations in Turkey, urging them to be mindful of attending public gatherings for both events due to increased security concerns across the country.

“U.S. Mission Turkey reminds U.S. citizens that extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to conduct attacks throughout Turkey in areas where U.S. citizens and expatriates reside or frequent. As we approach the end of 2016, U.S. citizens should be mindful of this when deciding to attend public gatherings for Holiday and New Year’s Eve celebrations,” the Embassy said in a security message issued on its website on Dec. 23.

“U.S. citizens are encouraged to review the Europe Travel Alert and reminded to be aware of their immediate surroundings. Avoid large crowds or crowded places when possible, especially in locations where Westerners, tourists, and expatriates are known to frequent, including but not limited to restaurants, commercial centers, places of worship and transportation hubs,” it stated.

The embassy also reminded its citizens to review their personal security plans, ensure communication connectivity and monitor local news for breaking events while maintaining a high level of vigilance and taking appropriate steps to enhance personal security.

Turkey has been rocked by two major terror attacks in December alone that were both claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

On Dec. 10, a total of 45 people, mostly police officers, were killed and dozens were wounded when a bomb-laden vehicle rammed into riot police and detonated following a match between Beşiktaş and Bursaspor at the Vodafone Arena in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul. Seconds later, the attack was followed by another suicide bombing in Maçka Park just across from the stadium.

Only one week later on Dec. 17, 14 soldiers were killed and 55 others were wounded in a suicide attack targeting a bus carrying off-duty soldiers in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri.