World

Mass arrests follow failed Turkey coup

The Bosphorus bridge was blocked off by rebel military units but reopened to traffic early on Saturday
The Bosphorus bridge was blocked off by rebel military units but reopened to traffic early on Saturday

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.

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.

‘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.

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.

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.

Source: BBC

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