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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Turkey suspends almost 260 local officials amid crackdown

Iran Press TV

Mon Oct 15, 2018 03:23PM

Turkey has suspended nearly 260 senior local officials over alleged terror links and activities unrelated to their posts, the interior ministry says.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu removed 259 local neighborhood heads, known as "muhtar" in Turkish, from their posts, his office said in a statement on Monday.

The statement did not provide further detail on what terror organisations the officials were allegedly linked to.

The muhtar is the elected chief of a village or a city neighborhood, and responsible for day-to-day services for residents such as registration.

Turkey has suspended or sacked over 140,000 public sector employees because of alleged links to a movement led by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Tens of thousands of people have also been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup.

During the 2016 botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country's institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.

Gulen has denounced the "despicable putsch" and reiterated that he had no role in it.

The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.

Turkey suspended over 500 village guards

Last week, the interior ministry suspended 559 village guards, locals employed to combat Kurdish militants, accused of links to terror organizations while 76 were accused of people trafficking and drug crimes.

Village guards, ethnic Kurds armed men paid by the government supporting the Turkish state, have the right to carry arms, to inform on suspected separatist activities.

Turkish authorities detained 137 people in country-wide operations earlier this month over alleged links to the PKK militant group.

PKK militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey.

Turkey, along with the European Union and the United States, has declared the PKK a terrorist group and banned it. The militant group has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.

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