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Anzac Day focus turns to France, Belgium

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/04/2017 Lloyd Jones, AAP London Correspondent

Turkish soldiers and police are expected to be out in extra force in the dry scrub of the Gallipoli Peninsula on Anzac Day following intelligence suggesting terrorists may try to target the commemorations.

Hundreds of Australians and New Zealanders have registered to attend the dawn service marking 102 years since the landings at Anzac Cove in 1915, but numbers are well down on the centenary event of 2015.

Interest is rising however in World War I commemorations in northern France and Belgium 100 years on from 1917 - the most costly year in terms of lives lost in Australia's wartime history.

Veteran's Affairs Minister Dan Tehan is expected to reflect on that year's nearly 77,000 Australian casualties when he speaks at the dawn service at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux on Tuesday.

In the afternoon another service will be held at nearby Bullecourt to mark the centenary of one of those costly Australian engagements.

In London Prince Andrew will join the Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners Alexander Downer and Sir Jerry Mateparae, a former NZ Defence Force chief, at the dawn service at Hyde Park Corner before attending a commemoration service at Westminster Abbey.

On April 6 Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Mr Tehan issued a statement saying advice to Australian travellers had been amended following information suggesting terrorists may target Anzac Day events at Gallipoli.

The Turkish military and police have in recent years provided heavy security on the day, with soldiers armed with sub-machine guns posted in the scrub surrounding the memorial sites, helicopters patrolling overhead and checkpoints on the road leading in.

Security is expected to be even tighter this year following the recent intelligence and a string of terror incidents in Turkey, including Islamic State group attacks targeting tourists.

The Australian government's Smartraveller advice is for Australians to "exercise a high degree of caution" at Gallipoli and Turkey overall, saying "there is a high threat of terrorism".

"Major events attract threats of varying degrees of credibility. Regrettably Anzac Day is not immune," the ministers' statement said.

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