ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities pressed on Sunday with a crackdown against suspects in the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with 6,000 people detained as he vowed to stamp out the “virus” of the plotters.
At a few places, the suspects offered resistance before surrendering to the authorities.
Security forces and putschists briefly clashed at an airbase in the central city of Konya, an official said. “We are able to confirm that there are clashes at the airbase in Konya between the security forces and putschists resisting arrest,” the source said.
The state-run news agency Anadolu later reported the fighting had come to an end and said six military personnel had been arrested. Seventy generals and admirals were taken into custody across the country, the agency added.
The official also confirmed an incident at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport, where police fired warning shots at putschists who were resisting arrest. They eventually surrendered. Earlier on Sunday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said around 6,000 people had been detained in “clean-up operations” and predicted that the number would rise. Among those arrested were senior army commanders, judges, prosecutors and a military aide to Erdogan, Ali Yazici, who had only been working for the president since August last year, Anadolu reported. President Erdogan has put the blame for the coup on supporters of his arch-foe, US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose Hizmet movement has had much influence within Turkish society, including the media, police and judiciary.
The government said that 265 people lost their lives in the attempted coup, including 161 civilians and regular troops. A total of 104 coup plotters were killed, the military said.
The suspects are being charged with membership of an “armed terrorist organisation” and attempting to overthrow the government by force, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Erdogan told a crowd of thousands at a funeral for the victims in Istanbul that there would be no let-up in the fight against his Gulen.
“We will continue to clean the virus from all state bodies because this virus has spread. Unfortunately like a cancer, this virus has enveloped the state,” he said.
The president broke down in tears at another Istanbul funeral — that of his friend Erol Olcak and his 16-year-old son, shot dead on the Bosphorus bridge while protesting against the coup on Friday night.
The group behind the coup, which called itself the Council for Peace in the Homeland, said it was necessary to stop the increasingly authoritarian president from undermining Turkish democracy. But the 62-year-old leader successfully mobilised supporters into the streets to face down the plotters.
Anadolu said warrants had been issued for 2,745 judges and prosecutors.
Erdogan accuses Gulen of running a “parallel state”, and called on Obama to extradite the reclusive preacher from the United States to face justice.
In an interview with Haberturk television, Labour Minister Suleyman Soylu went even further, saying “the United States is behind the coup” and adding it had to hand over Gulen.
Turkey has also demanded the extradition of eight people thought to have been involved in the putsch who landed in a Black Hawk military helicopter in Greece.