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Turkish coup attempt: President says coup was an act of treason
Faction of Turkey’s military claims armed forces have ‘fully seized control’ of the country
CBC News/Thomson Reuters Jul 15, 2016 3:54 PM ET
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged to crowds of supporters at Istanbul’s main Ataturk Airport early on Saturday after what officials said had been a coup attempt by a faction within the armed forces, footage on broadcaster NTV showed.
An attempted coup by elements of the military plunged the country into a state of unrest on Friday, with reports of chaos, confusion and even gunshots fired in the area near Istanbul’s Bosporus Bridge.
Erdogan, speaking from Istanbul in the early morning hours on Saturday, said the attempted coup was an act of treason, and that those behind it will be punished.
He said the arrest of officers is underway, noting the attempted coup is a reason to “clean up” the armed forces.
The president’s address came hours after a Turkey military faction claimed armed forces had “fully seized control” of the country, but Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on local television that Turkey’s AK Party is still in charge.
After the military’s claims, Erdogan urged people to take to the streets to protest against what he described as a coup attempt by a minority faction within the military, vowing that it would be met with a “necessary response.”
He said the act was encouraged by the “parallel structure” — his shorthand for followers of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Muslim cleric whom he has repeatedly accused of attempting to foment an uprising among his followers in the judiciary and the military.
The Alliance for Shared Values, a nonprofit group affiliated with Gulen, denied any involvement and said, “We condemn any military intervention in (the) domestic politics of Turkey.”
The military group said Friday the move was made to protect the democratic order and maintain human rights.
In a statement sent by email and reported on Turkish TV channels, the military said all of Turkey’s existing foreign relations would be maintained and that the rule of law would remain the priority.
Call for calm and ‘restraint’
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement saying Turkey is a valued NATO ally.
“I have just spoken to the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. I am following events in Turkey closely and with concern,” he said.
“I call for calm and restraint, and full respect for Turkey’s democratic institutions and its constitution.”
An announcer for Turkish state broadcaster TRT reading the statement said martial law has been imposed across Turkey and a curfew has been declared.
Turkey’s chief of military staff was among those taken hostage at the military headquarters in Ankara on Friday, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Earlier, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told NTV television Turkey would never allow any “initiative that would interrupt democracy.”
He added the coup will be put down and those responsible would pay the highest price.
Military jets were heard flying over the capital of Ankara, and media reports said ambulances were seen in front of Turkey’s military headquarters.
Istanbul’s Bosporus Bridge and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge were both closed on Friday, local television channels reported.
There were also varying reports about clashes, gunfire and even deaths.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported 17 police officers had been killed in a helicopter attack on police special forces headquarters on the outskirts of Ankara. The agency said Turkish Air Force planes shot down the helicopters. CBC News has not been able to independently confirm the reports.
The agency also reported bombs hitting Turkey’s parliament building in Ankara, which could not be confirmed.
Soldiers blocked entry to Ataturk Airport where four tanks were stationed, according to the private Dogan news agency. Two other tanks and a military vehicle were stationed in front of the VIP terminal. The report said soldiers had entered the tower and stopped all flights
Turkey Blocks, a group that monitors internet shutdowns in the country, and Dyn, which monitors internet performance and traffic globally, both reported it was difficult or impossible to access social media services like Facebook or YouTube in Turkey.