A coup was attempted in Turkey Friday with a faction of the military taking over state TV, imposing martial law and a curfew and reportedly attacking the police headquarters in the capital of Ankara, according to American and foreign officials.
“The situation unfolded in Turkey was a coup attempt to overthrow the democratically-elected government,” read a statement released by the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C., late Friday night. “This attempt was foiled by the Turkish people in unity and solidarity. Our President and Government are in charge. Turkish Armed Forces was not involved in the coup attempt in its entirety. It was conducted by a clique within the Armed Forces and received a well-deserved response from our nation.”
Erdogan also called the coup a “gift from God” because it will help Turkey clean out the military from the “members of this gang.” The timing of the coup was “meaningful,” because the military will start meetings in the beginning of August, and those who staged the coup were afraid of the decisions that would be made at those meetings, Erdogan said.
At least 60 people have been killed in the attempted coup, an official in the president’s office, told The Associated Press Saturday morning local time. Most of the deaths are civilians. Early death total numbers had been around 40.
A total of 336 people, most of them soldiers, have been arrested across Turkey, the official said. Earlier in the day, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had said 130 soldiers had been arrested following the coup attempt.
There were also at least two blasts reported near the entrance to parliament and no immediate word of casualties. The entrance to the building appears damaged.
Late Friday night, the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, returned to Istanbul after going to an undisclosed location and vowed that those who carried out the coup will “pay.” Earlier, he urged supporters to take to the streets in defiance.
Upon arrival at Istanbul’s Ataruk Airport, Erdogan addressed thousands of flag-waving supporters, saying the coup won’t succeed. “They have pointed the people’s guns against the people,” he said. “The president, whom 52 percent of the people brought to power, is in charge. This government brought to power by the people, is in charge. They won’t succeed as long as we stand against them by risking everything.”
“This is not old Turkey,” he said. “This is new Turkey.”
In Istanbul at least six people are dead and 100 injured from the clashes that resulted from the coup attempt, a source at Istanbul Haydarpasa Hospital told ABC News. Video shows Turkish military firing over hundreds of protesters’ heads as they approached a tank on a highway.
It was not clear who was behind the attempted coup, but a broadcaster for state TV read a letter from a group calling itself the “Turkish peace council” saying that martial law is being imposed. The news anchor says media personnel were handcuffed and forced to read what they were given.
CNN Turk has said that soldiers entered their building, the Dogan Media Center, which also houses the newspaper Hurriyet and DHA, a broadcaster. Shouting could be heard in the background as an image of the studio broadcast on TV.
Later, the Turkish Chief of Army had been rescued from detention and is back on duty after a military operation, Yildirim said. Those that held him hostage have been “eliminated,” Yildirim said.
Yildirim also said that security forces were doing what is necessary to resolve the situation.
Speaking on Turkish television, Yildirim said the military leadership has ordered all soldiers back to their bases. The prime minister called those behind the coup “traitors” and called the move “a terrorist act.”
Source: ABC News