Several Dozens Killed, Over 1,000 Injured Following Attempted Turkey Coup

Share this:

ISTANBUL, Turkey (RFE/RL)—Security operations are continuing in Turkey following a failed military coup attempt overnight that left scores of people dead and more than 1,000 injured.

Although the government said the situation in the country is “under control,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan posted a message on Twitter urging supporters to remain in the streets to prevent “a new flare-up” of coup activity.

Civilians swarming soldiers who had taken up posts on Taksim Square (Photo: AFP)

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Haberturk television on July 16 that 161 people were killed and 1,440 were injured during the unrest the previous night.

He did not appear to be including the 104 soldiers supporting the coup who were reported killed overnight, meaning the death total for the unrest would be 265.

Yildirim said 2,839 military personnel supporting the coup attempt had been arrested.

He said the coup attempt was a “black mark” on Turkish democracy.

Earlier, government officials said five generals and 29 colonels have been removed from their posts for suspected involvement in the bid to overthrow Erdogan’s government.

The acting military chief of staff, General Umit Dundar, said that 41 police officers were among the dead.

“The coup attempt has been foiled,” Dundar said at an Ankara news conference.

Dundar said that an unknown number of loyalist military officers are still being held by coup plotters in unknown locations.

He said the military is determined to eliminate “parallel structures” within its ranks.

“A group within the military carried out an attempt, outside of the chain of command, to overthrow the democratically elected government,” Erdogan’s office said in a statement early on July 16.

Yildirim called an extraordinary session of parliament for July 16 to discuss the crisis.

Turkish maritime authorities reported that the Bosphorus Strait had been reopened and that traffic through the strategic waterway was “back to normal.”

A man lies in front of a Turkish Army tank at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport (Photo: RFE/RL)

Eight soldiers who were involved in the coup fled in a helicopter to neighboring Greece. Ankara has called for their extradition, while Athens said it would consider the soldiers’ asylum request.

Regional powers Iran and Israel both issued statements condemning the coup attempt. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he had spoken three times with his Turkish counterpart and wrote on Twitter that “coups have no place in our region.”

Saudi Arabia also said it “welcomes the return of the situation to normal under the leadership” of Erdogan.

The coup plotters used tanks and aircraft during the night, including attacks on the parliament building and the president’s office in Ankara. The headquarters of Turkey’s intelligence service also came under attack during the night.

The state-run news agency Anadolu reported that some 200 unarmed soldiers at the Turkish military headquarters had surrendered to government security forces.

The chief of the military staff, General Hulusi Akar, was detained by coup supporters during the night but was freed by a helicopter rescue mission early on July 16.

Most news stations in the country appeared to be up and running again, and Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, which the military had shut down at the outset of the putsch attempt, had resumed processing flights.

Dozens of civilians were killed and hundreds wounded in nightlong battles and street fighting in Istanbul and other cities, with the heaviest casualties of at least 42 dead in Ankara, the scene of the heaviest fighting.

At around 7:30 p.m. on July 15, members of the Turkish military blocked access to the Bosphorus bridge, which links Istanbul’s European and Asian sides.

Erdogan claimed the coup plotters had tried to kill him by bombing a resort where he had been vacationing. He arrived back in Istanbul during the night to rally supporters against the coup and to pledge to “cleanse” the military of disloyal elements.

“They will pay a heavy price for this act of treason,” Erdogan said when he arrived at Istanbul’s airport. “We will not leave our country to occupiers.”

At a critical time during the struggle, U.S. President Barack Obama urged all parties to support Erdogan’s democratically elected government and to “show restraint and avoid any violence or bloodshed,” the White House said.

The photo shows damage to the Turkish Parliament in Ankara (Photo: Twitter/Ömer Çelik)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and emphasized the United States’ “absolute support” for the government.

Their announcements were echoed quickly afterward by the leaders of the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, a key colleague of Turkish military officers who called for “full respect for Turkey’s democratic institutions and constitution.”

EU leaders Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker on July 16 urged a “swift return” to normalcy in Turkey, saying “there is no alternative to democracy and the rule of law.”

While Erdogan and his deputies blamed a handful of military officers for leading a “minority” uprising in the military, overall they blamed the coup attempt on a political opponent: the reclusive Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Prime Minister Yildirim said countries that support Gulen would be considered enemies of Turkey.

Gulen, a one-time Erdogan ally with many followers in Turkey’s military and government offices, vigorously denied any involvement, saying “governments should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force.”

“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,” Gulen, 75, said, adding, “I categorically deny such accusations.”

NATO-member Turkey, with a population of some 80 million, is a key player in the effort to combat the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Several Dozens Killed, Over 1,000 Injured Following Attempted Turkey Coup