Turkey detains 6,000 in crackdown after coup bid

Pro-Erdogan supporters wave Turkish flags at Kizilay square in Ankara on July 17 during a demonstration in support to the Turkish government following a failed coup attempt.
Pro-Erdogan supporters wave Turkish flags at Kizilay square in Ankara on July 17 during a demonstration in support to the Turkish government following a failed coup attempt.PHOTO: AFP

Generals, judges among those rounded up; Western leaders urge respect for rule of law

ISTANBUL • Military generals and judges were among more than 6,000 people detained in a massive crackdown after a failed coup against Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the government said it was in full control of the country and economy.

Mr Erdogan vowed yesterday to clean out the "virus" within state bodies during a speech at the funeral of victims killed during the coup bid last Friday night that he blamed on his ally-turned-enemy Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric based in the United States.

"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," he warned thousands of mourners at the Fatih mosque in Istanbul.

Mr Erdogan's supporters, responding to the President's call late on Saturday to celebrate the "victory of democracy", rallied in public squares and outside his palace.

With expectations growing of heavy measures against dissent, European politicians warned Mr Erdogan that the coup bid did not give him a blank cheque to disregard the rule of law, and that he risked isolating himself internationally. US President Barack Obama, who condemned the coup bid, also urged Turkey to respect the rule of law, especially after pictures emerged showing some coup plotters being treated roughly.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said yesterday that about 6,000 people had been detained and "clean- up operations are continuing".

 
 

According to the government, more than 190 civilians and

regular troops were killed when a group within the army sought to overthrow the authorities by seizing key strategic points in Istanbul and Ankara. More than 100 coup plotters

were also killed, the military said. The coup bid was the biggest

challenge to Mr Erdogan's rule in his 13 years as prime minister

and now president. The Turkish authorities have said that they

will show no mercy, accusing the plotters of acting on behalf of

Mr Gulen.

Turkish television has shown images of suspects forced to lie face down on the tarmac after their arrest while Agence France-Presse photographers have seen suspects roughly led away, pursued by mobs.

CNN Turk said Mr Erdogan's chief military assistant, Mr Ali Yazici, was detained yesterday. Generals rounded up included alleged mastermind Akin Ozturk and General Bekir Ercan Van, commander of the Incirlik air base from where US aircraft launch air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The crackdown also netted nearly 3,000 judges and prosecutors.

The Turkish government moved swiftly to calm investors and prevent a sell-off when financial markets open today, with the central bank promising unlimited liquidity to lenders. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek also took to Twitter to reassure investors that there was "no need to worry".

The failed coup was the second major blow to travel in Turkey after Istanbul's main airport was attacked by terrorists last month.

Several Singaporeans in Turkey, whose plans were affected over the weekend, resumed their journeys or arrived home last night.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2016, with the headline 'Turkey detains 6,000 in crackdown after coup bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe