ISTANBUL/ANKARA: Turkish officials on Saturday (July 16) detained some of the country’s most senior military officials and judges in connection with the attempted military takeover overnight, according to local media.
General Adem Huduti is the most senior officer to be apprehended so far following the attempted intervention that saw more than 160 people killed. The Second Army, based in Malatya, protects Turkey’s borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran.
The government said that in all almost 3,000 soldiers had been arrested in a major purge of the armed forces.
Turkey also detained a member of the country’s top court: Alparslan Altan, one of 17 judges on the constitutional court, was taken into custody, the private NTV television reported, without specifying what he was accused of.
Earlier, the judicial authorities said that some 2,745 judges across the country would be dismissed in the wake of the coup.
Turkish authorities have been wresting back control of the country after crushing a military coup by discontented soldiers seeking to seize power from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The authorities blamed Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric who is Erdogan’s arch enemy, for the plot and lost no time in rounding up thousands of soldiers over alleged involvement amid concerns of the extent of the retribution.
Turks woke up to television pictures showing dozens of soldiers surrendering after the failed coup, some with their hands above their head, others forced to the ground in the streets.
“The situation is completely under control,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said outside his Ankara offices, flanked by Turkey’s top general who had himself been taken hostage by the plotters.
Turkish authorities also arrested 10 members of the Council of State, the country’s top administrative court, and are searching for 140 members of the court of cassation in a probe related to the failed overnight coup, broadcaster NTV reported.
Turkey 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.
ATATURK AIRPORT GRADUALLY REOPENS
Meanwhile, Istanbul authorities sought to get life back to normal with the bridges reopening to traffic and Ataturk International Airport – shut down by the plotters – gradually reopening.
But the US government said it has suspended all flights to Turkey, and banned all airlines from flying to the United States from Turkey due to uncertainty after the coup bid.
Turkish authorities also imposed a security lockdown at the Incirlik air base in the southern province of Adana used by US and other coalition forces in the fight against jihadists in Syria, the US consulate said.
The US military command in Europe has ordered American forces across Turkey to take maximum protective measures