Erdogan Declares Victory, Arrests Thousands, as Attempted Coup Leaves Scores Dead, Hundreds Wounded (VIDEO)
Friday night’s attempted coup in Turkey, which left more than 160 people dead and nearly 1,500 wounded, was quashed by the government, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday morning, after flying back from a seaside vacation, according to foreign media reports.
“They have pointed the people’s guns against the people,” Erdogan said of the members of the military who had tried to oust him. “The president, whom the people brought to power, is in charge.”
Prime Minister Binaldi Yildirim, who called the attempted coup a “black stain on Turkish democracy,” said that some 3,000 military personnel, whom Erdogan called “traitors,” have been detained. In a public speech he gave on Saturday afternoon, Erdogan – who had called on the public to take to the streets to oppose the coup, said that his government would resume focusing on its battle against ISIS when it had completed arresting and punishing all those responsible.
As Hebrew media sources reported on Saturday night, mass arrests of coup supporters are continuing.
Erdogan’s declaration of victory over the rebels came on the heels of fighting that went on all night and into the morning, with explosions heard across Ankara and Istanbul, and a bomb reported to have hit the parliament building. According to these reports, trials against the perpetrators and participants of the failed overthrow will begin on Sunday.
According to a Fox News report,
The [Turkish] government blamed the coup attempt on a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan has often accused the cleric and his supporters of attempting to overthrow the government. Gulen lives in exile in Pennsylvania and promotes a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.
Gulen, however, said he condemned “in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey” and sharply rejected any responsibility for the attempted coup.
Still, the government pressed ahead Saturday with a purge of judicial officials, with 2,745 judges being dismissed across Turkey for alleged ties to Gulen. Ten members of Turkey’s highest administrative court were detained and arrest warrants were issued for 48 administrative court members and 140 members of Turkey’s appeals court, state media reported.
In his speech before the masses who came out to support him on Saturday, Erdogan called on the US to extradite Gulen to Turkey.
The attempted coup came to light when a Turkish military group issued a statement late on Friday claiming to have seized control of the country, according to multiple media reports.
The “Official Declaration by the Turkish Military” said: “In order to reinstate the rule of law, democracy, freedom, and human rights; to preserve the constitution; to reestablish the deteriorating public security, the administration of the country has been seized in its entirety.
“All international commitments and agreements remain valid. We hope to maintain good relations with all other countries.”
The claim was issued shortly after Turkey’s prime minister said that only certain factions of the military had attempted a coup, and that it had not been successful.
“It is correct that there was an attempt,” Yildirim told the country’s NTV. He added that the government would not allow any “initiative that would interrupt democracy.”
“We are working on the possibility of an attempt. We will not allow this attempt,” he told the television station. “There are certain groups who took the arms trusted to them by the state and pointed them toward state employees. We shall determine soon who they are. Our security forces have acted against these groups.”
Following the report, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would overcome what he called an uprising by a minority, the BBC reported.
According to the report, he told CNN Turk by mobile phone that the action was by a “parallel structure” that would bring the necessary response. He called on people to take to the streets to oppose the move.
Media reports said that bridges had been shut down as well as all flights from the country’s airport in Istanbul. Tanks and other military vehicles were sighted at strategic points across the country with jets flying low over Ankara, the country’s capital.
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Turkish people and institutions “should support the democratically elected government of Turkey, show restraint and avoid any violence or bloodshed.”
Watch video footage below of the events shared by Turkish civilians with The Algemeiner: