Erdogan vows purge of ‘virus’ from state bodies after coup bid

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says he will clean the country of the 'virus' responsible for Friday's coup attempt.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (centre) and former Turkish president Abdullah Gul (centre-right) attend the funeral of a victim of the coup attempt in Istanbul on July 17, 2016.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (centre) and former Turkish president Abdullah Gul (centre-right) attend the funeral of a victim of the coup attempt in Istanbul on July 17, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

ISTANBUL (AFP) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Sunday (July 17) to purge the "virus" within state bodies, during a speech at the funeral of victims killed during the coup bid he blames on his enemy Fethullah Gulen.

"We will continue to clean the virus from all state bodies because this virus has spread. Unfortunately like a cancer, this virus has enveloped the state.

"We knew this and told all relevant authorities," he warned thousands of mourners at the Fatih mosque in Istanbul.

During a passionate speech, the president paid tribute to the "martyrs" of democracy, insisting that the people were stronger.

"They may have tanks but we have our faith. We will not leave the squares ... but we will continue defiantly.

"I said this yesterday, the people's demand for democracy cannot be swept aside. This is your right."

During the attempted coup, 161 civilians and regular troops lost their lives in Istanbul and Ankara, according to government figures.

More than 100 coup plotters were also killed, the military said.

Despite fears in the West and the United States that Erdogan would wreak revenge, he said: "Don't forget this, we are not vengeful."

The remarks appeared to be in response to US President Barack Obama's call for all parties to "act within the rule of law" and for leaders to "avoid actions that would lead to further violence or instability".

A Turkish minister said on Sunday that more than 6,000 people had been arrested and the number would rise.