Turkey: 161 dead in armed mutiny bid, 2,839 detained

Turkey: 161 dead in armed mutiny bid, 2,839 detained
3 min read
16 July, 2016
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said that 161 people were killed and almost 3,000 soldiers detained following a failed attempt to bring down the Turkish government.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim speaks to media at Cankaya Palace

A total of 161 people were killed and 2,839 soldiers detained after a bid to bring down the Turkish government, the Turkish Prime Minister said on Saturday.

Binali Yildirim, speaking outside his Cankaya palace in Ankara and flanked by top general Hulusi Akar who was held during the coup attempt, also described the putsch bid as a "black stain" on Turkish democracy.

He added that 1,440 people had been wounded, describing the attempted coup as a "black stain" on Turkey's democracy.

The toll 161 did not include the assailants, he emphasised. Turkey's acting army chief Umit Dundar had earlier said 104 putschists had been killed.

Yildirim blamed the coup attempt on the supporters of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara has for years accused of working to overthrow the authorities and wants to see brought to justice.

The United States has shown little interest so far to Turkey's requests for his extradition.

"Fethullah Gulen is the leader of a terrorist organisation," the premier said.

"Whichever country is behind him is not a friend of Turkey and in a serious war against Turkey," he added.

'Treason and rebellion'

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Turks to remain on the streets, as his forces regained control after the attempted coup.

After hours of chaos and violence unseen in decades, Erdogan ended uncertainty over his whereabouts, flying into Istanbul airport in the early hours where he was cheered by hundreds of supporters.

"What is being perpetrated is a treason and a rebellion. They will pay a heavy price for this act of treason," Erdogan said at the airport. "We will not leave our country to occupiers."

Erdogan used his Twitter feed to urge people onto the streets, warning against a new flare-up after the most dramatic challenge to his 13 years of dominant rule.

What is being perpetrated is a treason and a rebellion. They will pay a heavy price for this act of treason.
- Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"We should keep on owning the streets tonight no matter at what stage (the coup attempt is) because a new flare-up could take place at any moment," he said.

As the dust settled on a dramatic and chaotic night, TV pictures on Saturday showed extensive damage to the parliament building in Ankara that was bombed by rebel jets.

Erdogan's critics have long accused him of undermining modern Turkey's secular roots and of sliding into authoritarianism - but the president was believed to have won control of the military after purging elements who opposed him.

Erdogan immediately pinned the blame on "the parallel state" and "Pennsylvania" - a reference to Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, his arch-enemy whom he has always accused of seeking to overthrow him.

But the president's former ally "categorically" denied any involvement in the plot, calling the accusation "insulting".