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6,000 arrested as Turkey widens coup crackdown

Turkish authorities were on Sunday rounding up dozens of generals as well as senior judges and prosecutors accused of supporting a failed military coup aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The government has already said that almost 6,000 soldiers had been detained on suspicion of involvement in the putsch which began on Friday night but faltered already in the early hours of Saturday.

NTV television said that 34 generals of various grades had been detained so far. They include senior figures like Erdal Ozturk, commander of the third army and commander of the Malatya-based second army Adem Huduti.

Turkish authorities have reportedly detained a senior air force general and other officers at a key air base used by U.S. forces for raids in Syria.

Brigadier General Bekir Ercan Van was detained along with over a dozen lower ranking officers on Saturday at the air force base of Incirlik in Turkey's southern Adana Province, newspapers including the Hurriyet daily said.

They were now being interrogated by investigators, the reports added.

A Turkish official told AFP on Saturday that Ankara suspected Incirlik was used to refuel military aircraft "hijacked" by the coup plotters on Friday night.

The base has become a key hub for U.S. forces after Turkey in 2015 agreed to allow the United States to use Incirlik to carry out lethal raids against jihadists in Syria.

But the Turkish authorities imposed a security lockdown on the base in the wake of the coup, allowing no movement in or out, the U.S. consulate in Adana said.

Authorities have been carrying out raids at military bases across Turkey in search of those suspected of supporting the coup, which has claimed at least 290 lives.

In an operation early Sunday, at the garrison in the western town of Denizli, its commander Ozhan Ozbakir was detained along with 51 other soldiers, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.

The crackdown is however not restricted to the military and Anadolu said that prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for a total of 2,745 judges and prosecutors across Turkey.

It was not clear how many had been detained so far but the private Dogan news agency said 44 judges and prosectors were detained overnight in the central city of Konya and 92 in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

The entire investigation is being led by Ankara prosecutors and those arrested are suspected of belonging to the group the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen who Turkey accuses of masterminding the coup. Gulen denies the charges.

Turkey accuses Mr. Gulen of leading a group called the "Fethullahci Terror Organisation (FETO)" that has created a parallel state. Mr. Gulen's supporters say their group which they call Hizmet (Service) is entirely peaceful.

U.S. President Barack Obama had warned Turkey there is a "vital need" for all parties to "act within the rule of law" in the aftermath of the coup.

Meanwhile, operations from the Incirlik air base were suspended because of the closure of the airspace used for the missions, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.


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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 2:51:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/6000-arrested-as-Turkey-widens-coup-crackdown/article14494705.ece

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