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Gunfire and barricades as army launches Turkey coup

By Linda Stewart

Published 16/07/2016

Turkish soldiers block Istanbul's Bosphorus Bridge last night
Turkish soldiers block Istanbul's Bosphorus Bridge last night

Turkey's armed forces said they had "fully seized control" of the country last night, citing rising autocratic rule and increased terrorism.

The military statement read on state TV came after gunfire was heard outside military headquarters, fighter jets buzzed over the capital and vehicles blocked two major bridges in Istanbul.

The prime minister, however, said there was an "attempt" at a coup.

Soldiers blocked entry to Ataturk Airport where four tanks were stationed, according to the private Dogan news agency. Two other tanks and a military vehicle were stationed in front of the VIP terminal. The report said the soldiers had entered the tower and stopped all flights.

News reports said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was safe.

The military said it seized control "to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated".

The military statement also said that "all international agreements and commitments will remain. We pledge that good relations with all world countries will continue".

Premier Binali Yildirim said that a group within the military has engaged in what appeared to be an attempted coup.

Mr Yildirim said: "It is correct that there was an attempt." He did not provide details, but said Turkey would never allow any "initiative that would interrupt democracy".

"We are focusing on the possibility of an attempt (coup). There was an illegal act by a group within the military that was acting out of the chain of military command," he said.

Military jets were heard flying over Ankara and Istanbul. Gunfire was heard outside Turkey's military headquarters in Ankara, while reports said ambulances were seen out front.

"There are certain groups who took the arms trusted to them by the state and pointed them toward state employees," Mr Yildirim said.

"We shall determine soon who they are. Our security forces have acted against these groups."

The Dogan news agency said traffic on the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges was blocked. Video footage showed the bridge being blocked by military vehicles.

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