Thousands march across Istanbul bridge in anti-coup protest

Erdogan supporters wave Turkish flags as they gather on July 21, 2016, during a rally in Istanbul.
Erdogan supporters wave Turkish flags as they gather on July 21, 2016, during a rally in Istanbul.PHOTO: AFP

ISTANBUL (AFP) - Thousands of Turkish government supporters on Thursday (July 21) streamed across one of the two bridges spanning the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul to protest against the coup that sought to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan one week ago.

The Bosphorus Bridge between the Asian and European sides of Istanbul was one of the key battlegrounds in Friday night's coup attempt, as rebel soldiers descended in tanks to block it to traffic only to be countered by protesters who descended in force.

Responding to a call by Erdogan not to stop protests against the coup, his supporters filled the massive structure to denounce the putsch less than a week after it was beaten, AFP correspondents said.

Many carrying lit torches, they carried nationalist signs like "Our flag, our nation" and brandished slogans denouncing the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who Ankara blames for the coup.

They marched from the district of Kisikli on the Asian side - where Erdogan has a home and regularly spoke to supporters in the aftermath of the coup - to the European side of the city.

As a result, the bridge was closed to traffic from 1900 GMT (3am on Friday, Singapore time) and instead filled with a sea of people.

Erdogan has repeatedly said that despite the defeat of the coup, people must stay out on the streets to ensure there is no repeat of the attempt to oust the government.