"President Erdogan's words were unfortunately taken out of context. He was responding to the so-called 'manifesto' of the terrorist who killed 50 innocent Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand," Presidency Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter.
On his campaign trail for the local elections on Monday, Erdogan had warned that any Australians and New Zealanders travelling to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiment "would be sent back in coffins like their grandfathers" at Gallipoli, where a blood-drenched WWI battle occurred.
The Gallipoli battle, marked by heavy casualties on both sides, was a disastrous defeat for the allies against the then Ottoman Empire in 1915. On Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison blasted the comments "reckless" and "highly offensive," and summoned Turkish ambassador Korhan Karakoc. Australia has also issued a travel advisory warning people visiting the Gallipoli battlefields for remembrance ceremonies during next month's anniversary of the campaign to "exercise caution."