Date
18 October 2017
Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attend a pro-government rally in Istanbul on Sunday following the failed coup attempt against him. Photo: Reuters
Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attend a pro-government rally in Istanbul on Sunday following the failed coup attempt against him. Photo: Reuters

Turkey arrests 6,000 after failed coup attempt

Turkish authorities have arrested more then 6,000 people following Friday’s failed coup attempt, with President Tayyip Erdogan vowing to rid state bodies of the “virus” that caused the revolt.

Rounding up several military officers and judges in the crackdown, the government said on Sunday that it was in control of the country and economy.

Erdogan and the government accused US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the coup, and said they would seek his extradition.

Gulen denied involvement in the coup, and suggested that Erdogan may have staged the attempted coup himself in an attempt to tighten his grip on power.

On Sunday, Erdogan’s supporters gathered in front of his Istanbul home to call for the plotters to face the death penalty, which Turkey outlawed in 2004 as part of its efforts to join the EU.

“We cannot ignore this demand,” Erdogan told the chanting crowd, according to Reuters. “In democracies, whatever the people say has to happen.”

Erdogan said a “terror group” led by Gulen had “ruined” the armed forces, and that its members were being arrested in all military ranks.

By Sunday evening, authorities had rounded up nearly 3,000 suspected military plotters, ranging from top commanders to foot soldiers, and the same number of judges and prosecutors.

Akin Ozturk, head of the air force until 2015 and identified by three senior officials as one of the suspected masterminds of the coup plot, was among those held, Reuters reported.

General Bekir Ercan Van, commander of the Incirlik air base from which US aircraft launch air strikes on Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, was also said to be among those arrested.

A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman said more than 290 people, including over 100 rebels, had been killed and more than 1,400 injured following Friday’s events.

With expectations growing of a heavy clampdown on dissent, European politicians warned Erdogan that the coup attempt does not give him a blank cheque to disregard the rule of law.

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RC

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