Attempted coup leaves 265 dead as Turkey crushes revolt

A total of 265 people were killed in an attempted coup that played out overnight across Turkey, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Saturday, among them 161 government forces and civilians.

"Systemic operations are complete" against the attempted coup but mopping up measures could still take hours, Hakan Fidan, head of the country's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) said, according to a government official.

People have taken to the streets of Istanbul, lining the sides of major roads and holding the red and white Turkish flag in support of the civilian government and against the coup attempt.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was photographed by Anadolu meeting and greeting supporters on the Asian side of Istanbul.

Erdogan launched an operation to purge the armed forces of traitorous elements early Saturday, hours after a group within the Turkish military announced it was seizing power to restore order.

The military made large scale deployments in Ankara and Istanbul as well as other cities, shutting down key bridges and taking control of Istanbul's Ataturk international airport. Erdogan appeared on broadcaster CNN Turk calling for people to take to the streets to protest the rebellion.

The uprising appeared to have been largely crushed after aerial bombings, military blockades and clashes between mobs and armed forces were reported overnight across Turkey.

Government officials said 104 of those killed were coup plotters or sympathizers. Yildirim said 1,140 people had also been injured.

The government has so far detained 2,839 military personnel, with the number of arrests expected to rise, the prime minister added.

Operations to detain all pro-coup soldiers at the General Staff headquarters in Ankara are completed, the state run Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkey's top judicial body HSYK also dismissed 2,745 judges on Saturday, according to Anadolu.

"I welcome the strong support shown by the people and all political parties to democracy and to the democratically elected [government] of Turkey," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter.

But the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) appealed for restrain in the wake of the uprising.

"All those that carry responsibility must adhere to the rules of democracy and the rule of law and must prevent any further bloodshed," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who serves as chairman of the OSCE.

"Rule of law, democracy, respect for human rights and freedom of the media must be upheld even in difficult times," OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier added.

Turkish lawmakers were due to hold an emergency session at 5 pm (1400 GMT) on Saturday. It remained unclear if the meeting would take place in the parliament building, which sustained extensive damage during the rebellion. Footage showed collapsed walls and smashed windows, reportedly from airstrikes by the coup fighters.

It was not clear who was behind the coup attempt, which was condemned by several military commanders and all four major political parties, including three in opposition.

The attempted coup was carried out by "a group within the military" acting "outside of the chain of command," the president's office said earlier.

Erdogan had blamed the coup attempt on US-based religious leader Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic preacher and one-time ally who fell from Erdogan's good graces for allegedly orchestrating a corruption scandal in 2012 and running a "parallel state."

Gulen has condemned the rebellion, saying "governments should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force."

Last update: Sat, 16/07/2016 - 15:05

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