6,000 detained from Turkish army, judiciary in probe into failed coup attempt

People chant slogans as they gather at a pro-government rally in central Istanbul's Taksim square, Saturday, July 16, 2016. Forces loyal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left some hundreds of people dead and scores of others wounded Saturday. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

People chant slogans as they gather at a pro-government rally in central Istanbul’s Taksim square, Saturday, July 16, 2016. Forces loyal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left some hundreds of people dead and scores of others wounded Saturday. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

A crackdown on the military and the judiciary in the wake of a failed coup attempt has led to the detention of thousands of soldiers and judges and prosecutors, including commanders and top court members, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on July 17 said around 6,000 suspects, including at least 2,839 soldiers and thousands of judiciary members, have been detained as part of a wide-scale operation launched following the deadly coup attempt initiated by a group of soldiers late on July 15.

“There are currently around 6,000 detentions. It will surpass 6,000. The legal process on these will continue,” said Bozdağ.

Suspects are being charged with “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and “attempting to overthrow the government of the Turkish Republic using force and violence or attempting to completely or partially hinder its function.”

The terrorist organization is allegedly led by the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, a friend turned foe of the Turkish government.

The arrest warrants target two members of the Constitutional Court, Alparslan Altan and Erdal Tercan, 48 members of the Council of State, and 140 members of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The detention of 2,745 judicial and administrative judges and prosecutors was ordered after they were suspended from duty by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) early on June 16.

Many commanders have also been detained and some of them were later arrested.

Among the most significant names detained was the chief military assistant to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Col. Ali Yazıcı; the commander of the 2nd Army, Gen. Adem Huduti; the executive officer and Malatya Garrison Commander Avni Angun; and the commander of the 3rd Army, Gen. Erdal Öztürk.

Air Forces Commander Akın Öztürk was also detained on suspicion of masterminding the coup attempt, according to multiple reports.

In addition, Adana İncirlik 10th Adana Tanker Base Commander Gen. Bekir Ercan was among those detained.

The jets that hit Ankara were reportedly supported by Turkish tanker aircrafts based at the İncirlik Air Base, which is also being used by the U.S.-led coalition in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Police also detained eight Air Force generals suspected of being appointed to the top “coup command posts” if the failed attempt had succeeded, at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport late on July 16.

In the Aegean province of İzmir, Aegean Army Deputy Commander Brig. Mamduh Hakbilken and Foça Marine Amphibious Force Brigadier Commander Commodore Halil İbrahim Yıldız were among those detained.

Meanwhile operations in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces also took place, with Brig. Arif Seddar Afşar in Bitlis, Brig. Yunus Kotaman in Bingöl, Brig. Abdülkerim Ünlü in Tunceli, Brig. Ahmet Şimşek in Siirt, and Maj. Gen. Halil İbrahim Ergin in Hakkari all being detained.

On July 17, meanwhile, an operation was carried out on the Istanbul Gendarmerie Commandership, with police searching Istanbul Provincial Gendarmerie Commander Staff Col. Gürcan Sercan’s office.
Several other provincial gendarmerie commanders were also detained as part of the operations throughout Turkey.

Eight generals, namely Brig. İrfan Can, Maj. Gen. İmdat Bahri Biber, Maj. Gen. Fethi Alpay, Maj. Gen. Haluk Sahar, Maj. Gen. Mehmet Özlü, Brig. Ahmet Biçer, Maj. Gen. Şaban Umut and Maj. Gen. Serdar Gülbaş were detained.

Meanwhile, the general assembly of the HSYK decided to end the membership of five of its judges who were facing detention demands from the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office, while it also cut short the vacations of some other judges and prosecutors.

The Bakırköy Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul ordered the detention, in line with the HSYK’s demand, of some 140 judges and prosecutors on duty at the Bakırköy, Küçükçekmece and district administrative courts early on July 17.

A bloody coup attempt by a large number of soldiers, including high-ranking generals was quashed by the security forces on July 16 as hundreds of thousands of civilians hit the streets across the country against the rebel soldiers in a night that put a black mark on Turkish democracy.

Four top commanders and the Chief of General Gen. Staff Hulusi Akar were saved after they held hostage by the Gülenist coup attempters.

The air force’s command, the gendarmerie command and some units from the armored forces took part in the coup attempt, he said, adding that it was quashed.

As coup attempters lost almost all key governmental, military and private buildings they occupied as of July 16, Turkey’s top soldier Gen. Hulusi Akar, who was taken hostage by the coup attempters at the General Staff headquarters in Ankara with other leading commanders, was freed at the Akıncılar Air Base through an operation.

However, six of a group of around 5,000 civilians, who tried to enter the base in a reaction to the coup, were killed by the rebel soldiers.

Akıncılar was apparently was the base that plotters used as one of their centers to command.

Turkish security forces have completed an operation against the coup plotters at the headquarters of the military general staff, broadcaster CNN Turk reported on July 16.

Erdoğan’s hotel bombed

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was also a target of the coup attempters as a number of helicopters bombed a hotel where he was accommodating in the Aegean resort town of Marmaris only less than two hours after the president left the place for coming to Istanbul to address a large public meeting at Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport.

Police and soldiers clashed at the hotel and at least one police officer was killed there.

A Turkish F-16 jet controlled by coup-attempters also dropped bombs on a spot near the Presidential Palace in Ankara early on July 16, leaving five people dead, according to broadcaster CNNTürk.

Erdoğan told the broadcaster in a phone interview that a “minority group” in the military has attempted a coup.

President calls on citizens to streets

Erdoğan said the parallel state, referring to the followers of the U.S.-based scholar Fethullah Gülen, has promoted the attempt.

“We will not leave the ground to them,” he said, vowing to end the “occupation” by the group, called on nation to unite at squares and airports.

He repeated his call when he arrived at the Istanbul Airport, which was also initially held by plotter tanks before being liberated.

“Turkish Airlines began its operations. There is a small distress in Ankara,” Erdoğan told a large crowd gathered at the airport.

“There is no leaving here until this situation goes back to normal. I will not leave, too,” he said.

Imams at all mosques across Istanbul called for prayers late at night – which is not a regular prayer – and also called on locals to hit the streets to defend its nation.

PM: Situation largely controlled

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said in the early hours of July 16 that there were a group of rebels that took control of some helicopters and aircrafts and stroke randomly over Ankara and Istanbul as the country is underway a military coup attempt since the late hours of July 15.

Yıldırım told CNN Türk that there were “rebel units” in air bases in Ankara and Balıkesir and they were “conducting random air strikes and making great damage” in Ankara and Istanbul.

He said that he had given orders to the commander of air defense to “do what is necessary” regarding the choppers and jets.

Yıldırım added that there was an attack on the Turkish parliament but the situation there was under control and parliamentarians from all four parties were in the parliament.

“I thank the leaders of the opposition parties. They have protected the democracy. They have stood with our government by showing a clear stance against the coup attempt,” he said.

Situation largely under control after Turkey coup attempt by a group of soldiers, Yıldırım said.

Government had appointed 1st Army Commander Gen. Dündar early July 16 during the absence of Gen. Akar.

The unrest started when a group of soldiers closed the two bridges over the Boshporus that link Asia to Europe late on July 15.

Coup-attempting soldiers who shot artillery on civilians and police water cannon from a tank on the Bosphorus Bridge surrendered early on July 16. A total of 50 soldiers surrendered, CNNTürk reported.

Two civilians, advertisement sector businessman Erol Olçak and his son were killed in a fire at the Bosphorus Bridge.

Three civilians were wounded in the artillery shooting.

16 killed 250 detained at gendarmerie headquarter

Turkey’s police chief Celalettin Lekesiz has announced that 16 rebel soldiers were killed at the Gendarmerie General Command, which was taken back from the coup attempters.

“They were trying to command and control the gendarmerie forces across 81 provinces across Turkey,” said Lekesiz.

The operation there was still ongoing at the headquarters in Beştepe, where the presidential palace is also located, but it was about to finish, he said.

“16 of them are killed and nearly 250 of them are detained,” he added.

The plotters killed 17 policemen in an attack on the Gölbaşı Special Forces Department headquarters in the Turkish capital of Ankara, according to the Istanbul governor.

Two employees were killed at the Turkish satellite operator TÜRKSTAT in the same district.

The state-run broadcaster, TRT, which was taken over by the coup plotters, was retaken by the security forces.

The plotters, who named themselves the “Peace in the Country Council,” had forced a TRT speaker to read a declaration, claiming to take the power in the country.

Other media companies also saw attacks and raids as pro-government newspaper.

Journalist killed

Yenişafak announced that its photographer Mustafa Canbaz was shot dead in the head.

A group of soldiers entered the Doğan Media Center, which hosts Hürriyet newspaper, Hürriyet Daily News, broadcaster CNNTürk and other Doğan media companies, in Istanbul early on Junly 16, taking several journalists and other staff in the building hostage for some time. They were detained later.

Bombs hit parliament, PM’s office

The coup attempters hit by bomb Turkish parliament while lawmakers were holding a session. The lawmakers then moved to the shelter of the building.

The office of the prime minister was destroyed heavily.

State-run Anadolu Agency said warplanes and helicopters fired two times on Ankara police center.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said the attempters will not succeed.

“Over our dead bodies,” he said, thanking all political parties and broadcasters for supporting democracy.

He called on soldiers not to obey the coup attempters, adding that this was not ordered by the chief generals.

Turkey’s First Army Commander Dündar said he contacted with the Istanbul governor from the first minute of the uprising. Turkish Navy Chief Bülent Bostanoğlu said “As the commander staff, we openly reject this attempt.General Staff Special Forces commander Gen. Zekai Aksakallı said “the bandits will not succeed.

A group of civilians attempted to enter the state-run TRT during the occupation by the attempters, but the group inside fired at the group, wounding one person.

A military helicopter was shooting fire at the TRT building.

The so-called Peace in the Country Council said in the live declaration that it would trial at “fair courts” all those “have betrayed the country.”

The so-called council also declared a curfew. However, Defense Minister Fikri Işık said this was a “pirate statement,” saying that it was not linked to the military commanders.

Broadcaster NTV said a Turkish F-16 fighter jet downed a helicopter operated by the coup plotters.

A CNNTürk reporter said a helicopter fired on the General Staff headquarters in Ankara.

The Istanbul head of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) said on broadcaster CNNTürk on the phone that a group of soldiers were trying to take them out of the building.

Fethullah Gülen, meanwhile, denied being behind the attempted coup in Turkey, saying that he condemned it “in the strongest terms.”

“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,” Gülen said in a brief statement just before midnight on July 15.

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