Turkey: Mass arrests after coup bid quashed, says PM

Media captionTurkish soldiers surrender on Bosphorus bridge

Some 2,839 soldiers, including high-ranking officers, have been arrested after an attempted coup that is now over, says Turkey’s PM Binali Yildirim.

It was a “black stain on Turkish democracy”, he said, with 161 people killed and 1,440 wounded.

Explosions and gunfire were heard in Ankara, Istanbul and elsewhere overnight and thousands of Turks heeded President Erdogan’s call to rise up against the coup-plotters.

It is unclear who was behind the coup.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed a “parallel structure” – a reference to Fethullah Gulen, a powerful but reclusive US-based Muslim cleric whom he accuses of fomenting unrest.

Mr Gulen has rejected any suggestion of links to what happened, saying he condemned “in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey”. The Turkish government wants his extradition.

Some 2,745 Turkish judges have also been dismissed in the wake of the coup, state media say.

Read the latest live updates

International reaction

Coup aftermath in pictures

In pictures: Turkey coup attempt

Why did Turkish coup plot fail?

In other developments, the US consulate in southern Adana province said local authorities were preventing movement in or out of Incirlik air base and had cut power there. No reason has been given.

The US uses Incirlik to fly on missions against the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq.

Reasons behind coup: By BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen

The attempted coup happened because Turkey is deeply divided over President Erdogan’s project to transform the country and because of the contagion of violence from the war in Syria.

President Erdogan and his AK Party have become experts at winning elections, but there have always been doubts about his long-term commitment to democracy. He is a political Islamist who has rejected modern Turkey’s secular heritage. Mr Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian and is trying to turn himself into a strong executive president.

From the beginning Mr Erdogan’s government has been deeply involved in the war in Syria, backing Islamist opposition to President Assad. But violence has spread across the border, helping to reignite the fight with the Kurdish PKK, and making Turkey a target for the jihadists who call themselves Islamic State.

That has caused a lot of disquiet. Turkey has faced increasing turmoil and the attempt to overthrow President Erdogan will not be the last of it.

Media caption Soldiers storm CNN building during coup attempt
The Bosphorus bridge was blocked off by military units
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe Bosphorus bridge was blocked off by rebel military units but reopened to traffic early on Saturday

‘Heavy price’

The BBC’s Katy Watson in Istanbul says people there are shocked about the events of the past day – President Erdogan divides opinion among Turks but a military takeover was not something they saw coming.

Events began on Friday evening as tanks took up positions on two of the bridges over the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, blocking traffic. Troops were seen on the streets and low-flying military jets were filmed over Ankara.

Shortly after, an army faction issued a statement that a “peace council” was running the country, and it had launched the coup “to ensure and restore constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms”.

President Erdogan, then in the south-west resort of Marmaris, made a televised address via his mobile phone, urging people to take to the streets to oppose the uprising.

Mr Erdogan spoke to CNN Turk via FacetimeImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Erdogan spoke to CNN Turk via Facetime, urging supporters to oppose the coup

After flying to Istanbul, Mr Erdogan said: “What is being perpetrated is a treason and a rebellion. They will pay a heavy price.”

Fierce clashes

During the violence, the Turkish parliament and presidential buildings in Ankara were attacked. At least one bomb hit the parliament complex. MPs were believed to be hiding in shelters.

Gunfire was also heard outside Istanbul police headquarters and tanks were said to be stationed outside Istanbul airport.

Broadcaster CNN Turk was temporarily taken off air after soldiers entered the building and tried to take it over. CNN Turk later tweeted a photo of soldiers being arrested by police.

CNN Turk: PHOTO The moment a group of pro-coup soldiers raided @cnnturk and were later arrested. #TurkeyCoupAttemptImage copyrightTWITTER

There were reports of fierce clashes in Taksim Square in central Istanbul, and gunfire and explosions were heard near the square.

One of the helicopters being flown by rebels was reportedly shot down by government troops in Ankara.

Patrick Kingsley tweets: A Turkish official has circulated a picture of what is said to be the PM's trashed office in parliamentImage copyrightTWITTER
People carry an injured man in Ankara, Turkey, on 16 July 2016Image copyrightAFP
Image captionMany people were injured in the overnight violence

What is happening now?

Prime Minister Yildirim said the situation was now “completely under control” and the government’s commanders were now back in charge.

Earlier, acting military chief of staff Umit Dundar said officers from the air force, the military police and armoured units had mainly been involved in the coup attempt.

Although the chief of staff had been rescued, several military commanders were still being held hostage, he said.

Eight military personnel involved in the coup attempt fled to Greece by helicopter, seeking political asylum. Greece says it is considering Turkey’s request for their extradition.

Earlier, some 200 unarmed soldiers left Turkey’s military headquarters in Ankara and surrendered to police, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Dramatic images showed dozens of soldiers walking away from their tanks with their hands up on one of Istanbul’s Bosphorus bridges.


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