Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News World

Turkey attempted coup: Istanbul deputy mayor 'shot in the head'

The deputy mayor of Istanbul's Sisli district, Cemil Candaş, was shot in the head by an unknown assailant on Monday.

Turkish broadcaster NTV reported that the Jewish politician is in a critical condition.

It was not yet known if the incident is linked to Friday's attempted military coup in which more than 200 people were killed.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan said he would rid the country's institutions of the "virus" of those who oppose him.

Turkish officials have fired nearly 9,000 police officers, bureaucrats and other workers and detained thousands of suspected plotters following the foiled coup.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said a total of 8,777 employees attached to the interior ministry were dismissed, including 30 governors, 52 civil service inspectors and 16 legal advisers, while other media reports said police and military police officers and coast guards were also removed from duty.

The government has blamed Friday's failed coup - which it says left 208 government supporters and 24 plotters dead - on backers of a US-based Muslim cleric who has become President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's chief opponent.

The situation creates a sticky diplomatic situation - Turkey is a Nato member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group, but the EU and US have expressed alarm about its response to the coup.

Even before the weekend chaos, Turkey had been wracked by political turmoil that critics blamed on Mr Erdogan's increasingly heavy-handed rule. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissent, restricted the media and renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels.

Turkish PM Binali Yildirim said a total of 7,543 people had been detained since Friday, including 6,030 military personnel.

On Monday, according to Anadolu, prosecutors entered Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, which is key to the US-led campaign against IS.

A Turkish brigadier general at the base has already been detained for his alleged role in the uprising, and news reports say refuelling aircraft that took off from the base helped keep F-16s used by the coup-plotters up in the air.

Though government officials offered reassurances that life has returned to normal, warplanes patrolled Turkey's skies overnight into Monday in a sign that authorities fear the threat is not yet over.

Anadolu said Mr Erdogan ordered the overnight patrol by F-16s "for the control of the airspace and security" after a faction within the military launched the attempted coup.

Read more

Turkey coup attempt could threaten country's Nato membership, John Kerry warns 

The rebellion, which saw warplanes firing on key government installations and tanks rolling into major cities, was quashed by loyal government forces and masses of civilians who took to the streets. The country's top military brass did not support the coup.

Mr Yildirim's voice cracked and he wept as he spoke with reporters after a cabinet meeting and repeated a question his grandson had put to him: "Why are they killing people?"

He said he had no answer, but that Turkey would make the coup plotters answer "in such a way that the whole world will see".

On Monday, Turkish prosecutors began questioning 27 generals and admirals. Anadolu reported the group includes former air force commander General Akin Ozturk, who has been described as the ringleader of the foiled uprising.

Ozturk, who was still on active duty and has now been detained, has denied he was involved and insists he worked to quell the uprising in statements to Turkish media.

On Sunday, thousands of flag-waving people rallied in Istanbul's Taksim Square, Ankara's Kizilay Square and elsewhere. Mr Erdogan remained in Istanbul despite statements that he would return to the capital and address crowds in Kizilay Square.

The government moved swiftly in the wake of the coup to shore up its power and remove those perceived as enemies.

On Monday, security forces continued raiding military facilities in search of suspected plotters. In addition to Incirlik, they searched the Air Force Academy premises and residences in Istanbul, Anadolu reported. It was not clear if any arrests were made.

The crackdown targeted not only generals and soldiers, but a wide swath of the judiciary that has sometimes blocked Mr Erdogan, raising concerns that the effort to oust him will push Turkey even further into authoritarian rule.

The failed coup and the subsequent crackdown followed moves by Mr Erdogan to reshape both the military and the judiciary. He had indicated a shake-up of the military was imminent and had also taken steps to increase his influence over the judiciary.

It is not clear how the post-coup purge will affect the judiciary, how the government will move to replace the dismissed judges and prosecutors, or where the trials for those detained would be held.

Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus defended the crackdown on judiciary officials in an interview with CNN-Turk, saying many of them would have played a role had the coup attempt succeeded.

The government alleges the coup conspirators were loyal to moderate US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Mr Erdogan has often accused of trying to overthrow the government.

Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, espouses a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with democracy.

He is a former Erdogan ally turned bitter foe who has been put on trial in absentia in Turkey, where the government has labelled his movement a terrorist organisation. He strongly denies the government's charges.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph