Turkey: Mass arrests after coup bid quashed, says PM

Media captionTurkish soldiers surrender on Bosphorus bridge

Some 2,839 soldiers, including high-ranking officers, have been arrested over an attempted coup that is now over, says Turkey’s PM Binali Yildirim.

In a night he called a “black stain on Turkish democracy”, he said 161 people had been killed and 1,440 wounded.

Explosions and gunfire were heard in Ankara, Istanbul and elsewhere overnight and thousands of Turks heeded President Erdogan’s call to rise up against the coup-plotters.

It is unclear who was behind the coup.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed a “parallel structure”, in a clear reference to Fethullah Gulen, a powerful but reclusive US-based Muslim cleric whom he accuses of fomenting unrest.

However, in a statement, Mr Gulen rejected any suggestion he had links to the events, saying he condemned “in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey”.

Read the latest live updates

International reaction

In pictures: Turkey coup attempt

Why did Turkish coup plot fail?


Reasons behind coup: By BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen

The attempted coup happened because Turkey is deeply divided over President Erdogan’s project to transform the country and because of the contagion of violence from the war in Syria.

President Erdogan and his AK Party have become experts at winning elections, but there have always been doubts about his long-term commitment to democracy. He is a political Islamist who has rejected modern Turkey’s secular heritage. Mr Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian and is trying to turn himself into a strong executive president.

From the beginning Mr Erdogan’s government has been deeply involved in the war in Syria, backing Islamist opposition to President Assad. But violence has spread across the border, helping to reignite the fight with the Kurdish PKK, and making Turkey a target for the jihadists who call themselves Islamic State.

That has caused a lot of disquiet. Turkey has faced increasing turmoil and the attempt to overthrow President Erdogan will not be the last of it.


Media captionSoldiers storm CNN building during coup attempt

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Getty Images

Image caption

The Bosphorus bridge was blocked off by military units

The BBC’s Katy Watson in Istanbul says by Saturday morning the Bosphorus Bridge had reopened, and traffic was flowing across it as if nothing had happened.

People here are shocked about the events of the past day – President Erdogan divides opinion among Turks but a military takeover was not something they saw coming, our correspondent adds.

Events began on Friday evening when tanks took up positions on two of the bridges over the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, blocking it to traffic. Troops were seen on the streets and low-flying military jets were filmed over Ankara.

Shortly after, a faction of the army released a statement saying that a “peace council” was running the country, and it had launched the coup “to ensure and restore constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms”.

President Erdogan was in the south-west holiday resort of Marmaris at the time. He made a televised address, via his mobile phone, urging people to take to the streets to oppose the uprising.

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Getty Images

Image caption

Mr Erdogan spoke to CNN Turk via Facetime, urging supporters to oppose the coup

He then flew on to Istanbul, saying Marmaris had been bombed after he left.

In a speech at Istanbul airport, Mr Erdogan said: “What is being perpetrated is a treason and a rebellion. They will pay a heavy price.”

Outbreaks of violence

The Turkish parliament and presidential buildings in Ankara were attacked. At least one bomb hit the parliament complex. MPs were believed to be hiding in shelters.

Gunfire was also heard outside Istanbul police headquarters and tanks were said to be stationed outside Istanbul airport.

Broadcaster CNN Turk was temporarily taken off air after soldiers entered the building and tried to take it over. CNN Turk later tweeted a photo of soldiers being arrested by police.

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Twitter

Mike Baddeley, on holiday in Marmaris, said he was woken by “a very large explosion, followed by, it seemed like one or two helicopters flying above our heads… with machine gun fire”.

In the morning, he saw armed men in military fatigues walking around the hotel, but no further violence.

There were reports of fierce clashes in Taksim Square in the centre of Istanbul, and gunfire and explosions were heard near the square.

One of the helicopters being flown by rebels was reportedly shot down by government troops in Ankara.

Sporadic gunfire was still being heard in some areas by morning.

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Twitter

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AFP

Image caption

Many people were injured in the overnight violence

What is happening now?

Prime Minister Yildirim said the situation was now “completely under control” and the government’s commanders were now back in charge.

Earlier, the acting military chief of staff Umit Dundar said officers from the air force, the military police and armoured units had been mainly involved in the coup attempt.

He said that although the chief of staff had been rescued, several military commanders were still being held hostage.

Eight military personnel involved in the coup attempt fled to Greece by helicopter, seeking political asylum. Greece says it is considering Turkey’s request for their extradition.

Earlier, some 200 unarmed soldiers left Turkey’s military headquarters in Ankara and surrendered to police, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Dramatic images showed dozens of soldiers walking away from their tanks with their hands up on one of Istanbul’s Bosphorus bridges.

World reaction

  • In Washington, President Barack Obama urged all parties in Turkey to support the “democratically elected government”.
  • Nato, of which Turkey is a member, called for “full respect” for Turkey’s democratic institutions.
  • European Council President Donald Tusk said the country was “a key partner for the European Union” and called for a “swift return to Turkey’s constitutional order”.
  • Russia said it was deeply concerned, saying “the flare-up of the domestic political situation against the backdrop of the existing terrorist threats in this country and the armed conflict in the region brings a heightened risk to international and regional stability”.
  • Iran said events in Turkey proved “that a coup d’etat has no place and is doomed to fail in our region”.

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Reuters

Image caption

Erdogan supporters have been celebrating the surrender of soldiers in Istanbul


Turkey’s military coups

  • 1997 – also known as “post-modern coup”. Turkish military intervention leads to resignation of Islamist prime minister Necmettin Erbakan.
  • 1980 – Military coup following armed conflict between right-wing and left-wing groups in the 1970s
  • 1971 – Military coup known as the “coup by memorandum”, which the military delivered instead of sending out tanks
  • 1960 – Coup by group of young military officer outside chain of command, against the democratically-elected Democrat Party

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Turkey: Mass arrests after coup bid quashed, says PM

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