Turkish prime minister says 145 civilians killed during coup attempt

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Monday that 145 civilians were killed during the failed coup attempt, along with 60 loyalist police officers and three soldiers, while nearly 1,491 people were injured.

While Yildirim said 24 members of the putsch were killed and 50 injured, the Foreign Ministry has previously said the number killed was more than 100, causing some confusion.

The premier said that 7,271 people have been detained.

The fallout from last week's attempted coup was felt far and wide on Monday, with thousands of officials - including judges, police officers, politicians and soldiers - purged from their posts for alleged links to the power grab.

Turkey fingered the former head of its air force as the domestic ringleader of the failed coup attempt, which left 290 people dead.

Akin Ozturk was shown under arrest and battered as one of more than 100 generals and admirals who are accused of being part of the attempt.

The Interior Ministry said 8,777 people have been removed from their posts, including 7,899 members of the police and security forces, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The number excludes members of the military. On Sunday, officials said nearly 3,000 soldiers were also detained.

Included in the fresh numbers from the Interior Ministry are 614 members of the gendarmerie as well as local political leaders, including one provincial governor.

Incirlik airbase, used for the US-led coalition bombing campaign against Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, was again opened for operations after being shut for a day after the coup attempt.

General Bekir Ercan Van, commander of the airbase in southern Turkey, was arrested with 10 of his soldiers.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who survived the coup attempt, has pledged the "cleansing" of state institutions will continue, saying a cancer had spread like a "virus" and needed to be eradicated.

The government is blaming the coup attempt on Fethullah Gulen, a US-based, Turkish-born preacher and one-time ally turned rival of Erdogan accused of running a "parallel state." Gulen strongly denies any involvement.

Erdogan said he will discuss with opposition parties in parliament the possibility of capital punishment for the coup backers. Capital punishment has not been used in Turkey since 1984 and was abolished in 2004.

EU foreign ministers warned Turkey to show restraint in its response, worrying that Turkish retaliatory measures are going too far.

Punishment against the coup plotters must not include "measures that could lead to an authoritarian state," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told journalists in Brussels.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also warned Turkey against overreach.

"We ... urge the government of Turkey to uphold the highest standards of respect for the nation's democratic institutions and the rule of law," Kerry said after meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Turkey's introduction of the death penalty would end its EU membership talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said.

"We categorically reject the death penalty. A country that has the death penalty cannot be an EU member," said government spokesman Steffen Siebert.

Negotiations with Turkey to join the EU were launched about 10 years ago but have faced stiffed opposition from several members of the bloc.

A country that has the death penalty cannot join the European Union, the bloc's foreign policy chief said in a warning to Turkey.

In other news, Turkish police "neutralized" an armed man near a courthouse in Ankara and are searching for additional suspects, CNN Turk reports.

Live footage of operations included armoured vehicles on the streets and deployments of special forces, with reports of shots being fired.

Turkey has banned some 20 news portals and websites since the failed coup attempt, according to platform Engelliweb and Yaman Akdeniz, an activist, who track such blockages.

Last update: Mon, 18/07/2016 - 14:35
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