Turkish coup plotting failed, 265 killed

16 July,2016

RTNN News Desk: Forces loyal to Turkey's government fought yesterday to crush the last remnants of a military coup attempt which collapsed after crowds answered President Tayyip Erdogan's call to take to the streets and dozens of rebels abandoned their tanks.

Two hundred and sixty-five people were killed, including many civilians, after a faction of the armed forces tried to seize power using tanks and attack helicopters.

Some strafed the headquarters of Turkish intelligence and parliament in the capital, Ankara, and others seized a major bridge in Istanbul.

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

In a night he called a "black stain on Turkish democracy", he said 265 people were killed and 1,440 wounded but the situation was fully under control and that "our commanders" were in charge of the military.

The army's acting chief of staff, Umit Dundar, told a news conference that 104 so-called coup plotters and at least 47 civilians had been killed.

In the wake of the failed coup, the government has removed 2,745 judges from duty. The decision followed an emergency meeting of Turkey's Judges and Prosecutors High Council which was called to discuss members' links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, the leader of a reformist Muslim movement.

President Erdogan accused the coup plotters of trying to kill him and launched a purge of the armed forces, which last used force to stage a successful coup more than 30 years ago.

"They will pay a heavy price for this," said Erdogan, who also saw off mass public protests against his rule three years ago. "This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army."

A Turkish broadcaster reported that a purge of the judiciary was also underway.

One government minister said some military commanders were still being held hostage by the plotters.

But the government declared the situation fully under control, saying 2,839 people had been rounded up from foot soldiers to senior officers, including those who had formed "the backbone" of the rebellion.

Erdogan, who had been holidaying on the southwest coast when the coup was launched, flew into Istanbul before dawn on Saturday and was shown on television outside Ataturk Airport.

Addressing thousands of flag-waving supporters at the airport later, he said the government remained at the helm, although disturbances continued in Ankara.

Erdogan, a polarising figure whose Islamist-rooted ideology lies at odds with supporters of modern Turkey's secular principles, said the plotters had tried to attack him in the resort town of Marmaris.

"They bombed places I had departed right after I was gone," he said. "They probably thought we were still there."
DISMISSAL OF JUDGES

The emergency meeting of Turkey's Judges and Prosecutors High Council saw the dismissal of 2,745 judges along with several members of the council itself, which is Turkey's highest judiciary board.

Turkey's state-run news agency said authorities have detained 10 members of the council.

The Anadolu Agency said arrest warrants have been issued for 48 administrative court members and 140 members of Turkey's appeals court.

The government has repeatedly blamed the influence of the Gülen movement for the coup and has said the overthrow attempt was carried out by a clique of supporters within the military.

Turkey's acting military chief of staff Umit Dundar earlier said: “The armed forces are determined to remove members of the Gülen movement from its ranks.”

Gülen, a preacher and former imam, was an ally of Erdogan until 2013. The relationship turned sour after a corruption scandal implicated Erdogan, who then accused Gülen of being behind the corruption investigations.

He is now on Turkey's most-wanted terrorist list and the country has demanded his extradition from the United States where he is in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

Gülen is the founder of the Gülen movement, which teaches a moderate Islam which believes in science, multi-party democracy and interfaith dialogue between the Abrahamic religions.
SMART PHONE ADDRESS

In a night that sometimes verged on the bizarre, Erdogan frequently took to social media, even though he is an avowed enemy of the technology when his opponents use it and frequently targets Twitter and Facebook.

Erdogan addressed the nation via a video calling service, appearing on the smart phone of a CNN Turk reporter who held it up to a studio camera.

He said the "parallel structure" was behind the coup attempt -- his shorthand for followers of Gülen.

"As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations," Gulen said in a statement.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States had not received any request to extradite Gülen.
SOLDIERS SURRENDER

Gunfire and explosions had rocked both Istanbul and Ankara through the night after soldiers took up positions in both cities and ordered state television to read out a statement declaring they had taken power. However, by dawn the noise of fighting had died down considerably.

About 50 soldiers involved in the coup surrendered on one of the bridges across the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul after dawn yesterday, abandoning their tanks with their hands raised in the air.

Reuters witnesses saw government supporters attack the pro-coup soldiers who had surrendered.

By afternoon, CNN Turk reported that security forces had completed an operation against coup plotters at the headquarters of the military general staff. Security sources also said police detained about 100 military officers at an air base in the southeast.

Neighbouring Greece arrested eight men aboard a Turkish military helicopter which landed in the northern city of Alexandroupolis yesterday, the Greek police ministry said, adding that they had requested political asylum.
LAWMAKERS IN HIDING

The coup began with warplanes and helicopters roaring over Ankara and troops moving in to seal off the bridges over the Bosphorus, which separates Europe and Asia in Istanbul.

Turkish maritime authorities reopened the Bosphorus to transiting tankers after shutting the major trade route from the Black Sea to the Aegean for several hours for security and safety reasons.

Early yesterday, lawmakers were hiding in shelters inside the parliament building, which was being fired on by tanks. An opposition deputy told Reuters that parliament was hit three times and that people had been wounded.

A senior Turkish official said later yesterday attacks on the parliament had "largely stopped".

A Turkish military commander also said fighter jets had shot down a helicopter used by the coup plotters over Ankara.

Momentum turned against the coup plotters as the night wore on. Crowds defied orders to stay indoors, gathering at major squares in Istanbul and Ankara, waving flags and chanting.

"We have a prime minister, we have a chief of command, we're not going to leave this country to degenerates," shouted one man, as groups of government supporters climbed onto a tank near Ataturk airport.
CONSPIRACY THEORY

Conspiracy theorists are saying the attempted military coup in Turkey was faked, after Erdogan reportedly called it “a gift from God”.

He was quoted as saying it would help cleanse the military of "members of the gang” who would “pay a heavy price for their treason”.

This immediately led many to fear that Erdogan, who has previously been accused of persecuting critics, will use the coup as an excuse to further crack down on his opponents.

Some observers have even begun specualting that the coup was stage-managed to give Erdogan an opportunity to purge the military of opponents and increase his grip on Turkey.

Ryan Heath, the senior EU correspondent at Politico, used Twitter to share comments from his “Turkish source”, who called the events of Friday night a “fake coup” which would help a “fake democracy warrior” [Erdogan].

A Twitter user quoted “my special friend in Istanbul” as calling what happened: “Most probably a real coup attempt, which was vaguely known beforehand, and was allowed to proceed, because they knew it to be disorganised and weak.

“This means it will be followed by a real coup by Erdogan himself, and the last remnants of democracy will be lost.”

Some of the soldiers who were detained at a military headquarters in Turkey have reportedly told interrogators they were not aware they were part of a coup attempt.

They had been told by commanders they were taking part in military manoeuvres, the Turkish Hurriyet newspaper has reported.

Some soldiers said they understood they were part of a coup when they saw civilians climb on tanks.

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