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The Grand National Assembly building in Ankara was severely damaged

July 2016 - Coup / Mutiny

On 15 July 2016 Turkish security forces closed portions of both of the Bosphorus bridges in Istanbul that link the European continent with Asia. Military jets and helicopters have been deployed over Turkey's capital, Ankara. Gunfire could be heard in Anakra as the aircraft flew over at a low altitude. Local television channels in Istanbul reported the closures of the Bosphorus bridges but did not immediately provide a reason. Footage by Turkey’s Dogan News Agency showed cars and buses being diverted from the bridges as a result of the unprecedented closures.

Only when military tanks and vehicles occupied the city center did it become clear that a military coup was underway. Whether or not the jets were used for aerial bombing remains unclear, but scenes of destruction from the parliament confirm heavy artillery was used on the building, injuring some of the MPs inside. Helicopter fire, though, was widely documented on social media.

Military personnel moved swiftly to disarm Turkish police officers, who tended to back Erdogan's government, before occupying the TRT Turkish national television station to announce martial law and declare the coup a success. The Turkish military broke into the headquarters of state broadcaster TRT. After seizing the channel, Turkish Armed Forces broadcast a statement declaring martial law and announcing that they had “completely taken over the administration” with the aim of “reinstat[ing] constitutional order, human rights and freedoms.”

Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) announced that the country's government was confiscated its entirety. The statement, "President deluded, misguided and even traitors; Peace Council seized the country's leadership at home!" it said. Turkish Armed Forces said in a statement: "Turkish Armed Forces, the constitutional order, democracy, ensure the repetition of human rights and freedoms and facilities, enabling dominate again the rule of law in the country, deteriorating public security order of confiscated whole administration of the country in order to ensure again. All international agreements and our commitment remains with all countries of the world, we hope to continue our good relations."

President Erdogan's office website said he was safe and and that a coup attempt by a small group of soldiers was "unsuccessful." In his appearance on CNNTurk via a reporter's mobile phone, Erdogan urged people to take to the streets to protect "democracy." He said "This is an act encouraged by the parallel structure. ... I believe that this act will have the necessary punishment that will be given by our nation."

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said a group within Turkey’s military had attempted to overthrow the government and security forces had been called in to “do what is necessary”. Yildirim said in comments broadcast by private channel NTV “Some people illegally undertook an illegal action outside of the chain of command ... “The government elected by the people remains in charge. This government will only go when the people say so.”

Speaking live on local television, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Erdogan's AK Party was still in charge of the government. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag claimed that the people behind the coup are members of the movement that is loyal to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, according to Reuters. President Erdogan and his supporters within the government described the military behind the coup as a small faction.

The takeover saw a night of explosions, air strikes and gunfire. The Turkish parliament in Ankara was bombed and Istanbul's main airport was seized. The coup attempt also led to the temporary seizure of the state broadcaster TRT. Erdogan, who had been holidaying on the southwest coast when the coup was launched, called the uprising an "act of treason" and said that those responsible would pay a heavy price.

Erdogan's top campaign manager and the manager's teenage son were killed when renegade soldiers opened fire on protesters at the Bosporus bridge in Istanbul.

Among the top military officers arrested was the commander of the Third Army Corps, General Erdal Ozturk, based in Istanbul, who would face charges of treason for alleged links to the coup plot. General Adem Huduti, the commander of the Second Army, was also detained. In past Turkish coups, the chief of staff of the military and other generals have been the main ringleaders. This time, that appears to not to be case. There were local media reports that the chief of staff and other members of the military top brass had been taken captive by pro-coup forces and held at the main military base in Ankara.

Turkish officials said July 16, 2016 that 2,839 soldiers and officers who attempted a coup had been arrested, as the president accused an exiled cleric of organizing the plot. A number of high-ranking military officials fled to neighboring Greece by helicopter and requested political asylum. According to local media reports, some of them are believed to be among the architects of the coup. Greek police said that the arrested Turks include two majors, four captains and two sergeants first class, differing from earlier reports. Greece's government said they will return a Turkish Blackhawk helicopter "as soon as possible" but will examine the asylum claims made by eight Turkish military personnel who were on board.

Turkey's four main political parties condemned the failed coup attempt in a joint statement read during a symbolic parliamentary session, just hours after government control was reinstated. In a speech to parliament, Kemal Kilicdaroglu - the leader of Turkey's main opposition, the secular Republican People's Party (CHP) - said the failed coup attempt had brought political parties closer to finding common ground to improve democracy.

There were varying reports of the number of people killed in clashes. Updating the death toll, the Turkish government says 265 people were killed during the failed military coup. Officials say 161 civilians died, including conspirators. A further 104 military plotters were also killed. Conditions remained tense in Istanbul, Ankara and some other provincial cities, and there were reports of sporadic continuing violence. Turkish media reported intense clashes at a large military barracks outside Ankara that was believed to be a stronghold of the coup plotters.

As many as 2,745 judges reportedly were suspended for allegedly having links to the cleric, Fethullah Gulen. Turkish media also reported that 140 arrest warrants had been issued against members of Turkey's Supreme Court.

Turkish officials continued to arrest judges and military officers in connection with the coup attempt, detaining more soldiers Sunday. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said 17 July 2016 around 6,000 people had been detained.

Prime Minister Binali Yilidirim said 18 July 2016 that 7,543 people had been detained and 2,745 members of the judiciary suspended. He also said 1,500 officials in the Finance Ministry and 8,777 Interior Ministry officials had been suspended.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is among those suspicious of the arrests and purges already carried out, arguing it looked like the lists were drawn up before the coup was launched.

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Page last modified: 19-07-2016 14:02:23 ZULU