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Prince William attends New Zealand Anzac Day service amid heightened security

Prince William attends New Zealand Anzac Day service amid heightened security
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The Duke of Cambridge, Britain's Prince William, has attended an ANZAC Day service alongside New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Australia and New Zealand at Anzac Day memorials amid heightened security following the shooting massacre at Christchurch mosques and deadly suicide bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.

The prince laid a wreath at the service in Auckland, before travelling to Christchurch to visit those affected by the March 15 mosque shootings in which 50 people lost their lives.

A suspected white supremacist from Australia has been charged with 50 counts of murder over the shootings on March 15 and will next appear in court in June.

A Sri Lankan government minister says the bombings on Easter Sunday were retaliation for the Christchurch massacre. New Zealand says it has no evidence of a link.

Turkish authorities arrested a suspected member of the Islamic State group they believe was planning to attack an Anzac Day commemoration at Gallipoli attended by hundreds of Australians and New Zealanders, Turkish police said on Wednesday.

Heightened security

About 1,000 police were 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.

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.

"Our sense of independence is as strong as our sense of responsibility to each other and not just as nation states but as human beings. That is part of the Anzac legacy," she said.

Heavily armed police surrounded the function area and snipers were positioned on rooftops during the ceremony.

Anzac Day

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.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed a dawn service in Townsville, Queensland, where he shared memories of his grandfather, who served in World War Two.

"Our heroes don’t just belong to the past, they live with us today," Morrison said.