Thousands gather for Anzac Day in Australia, New Zealand amid heightened security
Updated : April 25, 2019 08:30 AM IST
Tens of thousands gathered in Australia and New Zealand at Anzac Day memorials on Thursday amid heightened security following the shooting massacre at Christchurch mosques and deadly suicide bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
Anzac Day commemorates the bloody battle on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey during World War One. On April 25, 1915, thousands of troops from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) were among a larger Allied force that landed on the narrow beaches of the Gallipoli peninsula, an ill-fated campaign that would claim more than 130,000 lives.
While the Gallipoli campaign against the Turks failed, the landing date of April 25 has become a major day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand for their troops killed in all military conflicts.
Addressing thousands gathered for a dawn service at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that, in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, Anzac Day 2019 should be an even greater uniting force.
"Let us recommit to always remembering our shared humanity that there is more that unites us than divides us," Ardern said.
Britain's Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, paid tribute at the Auckland War Memorial alongside Ardern. He will travel to Christchurch later on Thursday to honour the 50 victims of the shooting.
Heightened security saw about 1,000 police deployed across New Zealand at hundreds of locations and security concerns meant Anzac Day events in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, and elsewhere were scaled back.