Turkish GP Security Doubled

Turkish Grand Prix organisers have doubled the security measures for Sunday's Formula One race after last month's London suicide bombings

Turkish GP Security Doubled

"We doubled it after the British Grand Prix, or rather what happened that week," Turkish Autosport Federation president Mumtaz Tahincioglu told Reuters at Istanbul's $70 million circuit on Thursday.

He said 4,000 unarmed private security guards would protect the circuit on the Asian side of Istanbul along with 2,000 paramilitary Jandarma police and 800 city police.

An unspecified number of plain clothes police officers will also mingle with the crowds attending the first Grand Prix held in the country.

While the London bombs on underground trains and buses killed 52 people, NATO member Turkey has also suffered repeated attacks.

A bomb killed two people earlier this month on the Asian side of Istanbul while five people, including a British tourist, were killed in the Aegean resort of Kusadasi when another device exploded on a minibus.

Bombings in Istanbul in November 2003, including attacks against the British consulate general and the headquarters of HSBC bank, killed more than 60 people and injured hundreds.

Six of the 10 Formula One teams are British-based.

Sniffer Dogs

"What has happened around the world in the last few months, of course it figures that you need to do something extra," said Tahincioglu.

"We have discussed this with the governor of Istanbul, the mayor and the prime minister of course and all together we decided that the standard security measurements we had planned needed to be doubled.

"Initially the private security company had supplied us with 2,000 people. We increased that to 4,000."

Armed police protected the access roads to the circuit on Thursday, although there was no action on the track and no spectators, with sniffer dogs in the paddock as team staff arrived in the morning.

Tahincioglu said there had been no specific threats to the event and was confident the race would proceed without incident.

"The measures taken here really should be enough to make sure that everything goes according to plan and I myself, along with my colleagues, feel very comfortable with all the measures," he said.

The measures were comparable to those in place for the Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan in Istanbul in May, he added.

The Turkish federation also had its own people at Silverstone last month "watching and getting information" but the British police had not been involved.

BAR's Jenson Button, the only English driver in Sunday's race, said he had no concerns.

"There's a lot of places in the world where the security isn't fantastic," he said. "But I think that here you are in a place where they know the security has to be good.

"Also where my motorhome is, I'm very happy because it's next to a police station throughout the whole weekend."

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Series Formula 1
Author Alan Baldwin
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