Arrests hit 6,000 as Turkey cracks down on army and judges after coup bid
Updated: 2016-07-18 10:24
Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gather on Taksim square in Istanbul, Turkey, July 17, 2016. [Photo/VCG]
Turkey widened a crackdown on suspected supporters of a failed military coup on Sunday, taking the number of people rounded up in the armed forces and judiciary to 6,000, and the government said it was in control of the country and economy.
President Tayyip Erdogan and the government accused the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally whom Erdogan accuses of trying to create a "parallel structure" within the courts, police, armed forces and media, of orchestrating the coup.
Erdogan's supporters of gathered in front of his Istanbul home to call for the plotters to face the death penalty, which Turkey outlawed in 2004 as part of its efforts to join the European Union.
"We cannot ignore this demand," Erdogan told the chanting crowd. "In democracies, whatever the people say has to happen."
He said a "terror group" led by Gulen had "ruined" the armed forces, that its members were being arrested in all military ranks, and that a purge of this "virus" would continue. Gulen denied any connection with the coup.
The president has called on Turks to stay on the streets until Friday, and late into Sunday night, his supporters thronged squares and streets, honking horns and waving flags.
One video posted on Twitter showed detained generals with bruises and bandages. Akin Ozturk, head of the air force until 2015 and identified by three senior officials as one of the suspected masterminds of the coup plot, was among those held.
The Foreign Ministry raised the death toll to more than 290, including over 100 rebels, and said 1,400 people were hurt.