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Photograph: Photo by falco, used under CC0

Around 18 million pupils were heading to class in Turkey for the start of the school year on Monday, following the dismissals of tens of thousands of teachers in the two months since a failed military coup.

The new semester began with a moment of silence for those who died in the coup attempt, state-run news agency Anadolu reported.

Some 21,000 teachers have had their licenses revoked and another 28,000 teachers have been dismissed from the civil service under a state of emergency since the failed putsch on July 15.

All of them are accused of sympathizing with Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher living in the United States, whom the government has blamed for its attempted overthrow.

In addition, the state has suspended some 11,000 teachers accused of having ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Turkey and the PKK have been locked in conflict for more than 30 years, leaving tens of thousands dead. The PKK, which the government deems a terrorist group, is demanding greater autonomy and rights for the Kurds in the country.

Turkey has more than 850,000 teachers.

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