Erdogan clamps down, thousands arrested, after Turkey coup attempt

The Turkish government is reasserting its authority Sunday with a clampdown following a failed military coup attempt, arresting 6,000 people and dismissing thousands more in moves focused on the armed forces and the judiciary.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Turkish-born preacher and one-time ally turned rival accused of running a "parallel state." Gulen strongly denies any involvement in the coup launched on Friday night, which left 265 people dead.

Erdogan is demanding Washington extradite the preacher though the US wants to see proof of his involvement. There is not yet an official request for the extradition.

Funerals were under way in Ankara for those killed defending the civilian government. More services were expected throughout the day in other cities.

Some 6,000 people have been arrested, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag says, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

"Right now, the cleansing is continuing," he said, adding that related judicial processes were also ongoing.

Earlier, officials said nearly 3,000 people from the armed forces are under arrest, including dozens of generals, colonels and other high ranking officers.

The heads of two of the four land forces are in detention as is the former head of the air force, accused of being a "mastermind," though no clear leader on the ground has emerged.

Arrest warrants were issued for 250 judges and prosecutors and 2,745 judges were dismissed from their posts.

As a sign of defiance against the attempted putsch, parliament convened in Ankara on Saturday, hours after the coup was crushed, in a rare show of unity across party lines. All four parties signed a declaration in favour of civilian rule.

The opposition, often targeted by the government, used the opportunity to also call for a strengthening of democracy in the country. Erdogan has been accused of becoming increasingly authoritarian in his more than 13 years in power.

A total of 265 people were killed, among them 161 government forces and civilians, while 1,140 people had also been injured.

Meanwhile, Incirlik airbase, used for the US-led coalition bombing campaign against Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, had been sealed off and had the electricity cut off.

The Pentagon said it was working with the Turks "to resume air operations there as soon as possible."

Six F-16 aircraft were hijacked by the plotters during the coup attempt and used to attack key buildings, including parliament which suffered serious damage to the facade, according to government officials.

In the early hours of the coup attempt, Erdogan had called his supporters to take to the streets against the military elements, and it was answered en masse, helping the government keep control.

Hakan Fidan, the head of the intelligence services, told local paper Milliyet that the government had become fully aware of the impending coup attempt hours before it was launched. Other evidence also suggests the government was able to survive by being prepared.

People stayed on the streets in support late into the night Saturday, long after the putsch had been suppressed. Erdogan himself went out to the crowds a couple of times.

The coup started as some elements in the military made deployments in Ankara, Istanbul and other cities, closing key bridges and taking control of Ataturk international airport.

Turkish military personnel arrived in the Greek port city of Alexandroupolis late Saturday to retrieve the Black Hawk helicopter used by eight suspects in their bid for political asylum. The officers remain in Greece as a process pends.

Last update: Sun, 17/07/2016 - 13:55
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