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Turkish Army Attempting Coup in Ankara and Istanbul

Updated: Friday, July 15, 2016 – 3:05 PM

(AFP) Turkish troops launched a coup Friday, with soldiers taking to the streets of Ankara and Istanbul as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed the putschists would pay a “very heavy price”.

Jets screeched low overhead in the capital, while citizens rushed for the safety of their homes.

AFP correspondents reported a strong explosion in Ankara just before 1:00 am (2200 GMT), though it was not immediately clear what caused the blast.

Turkey’s top general Hulusi Akar was taken hostage at the military headquarters in the capital Ankara after the attempt to bring down the government, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. 

State broadcaster TRT said the military had declared martial law and a curfew, in a statement signed by a group calling itself the “Council for Peace in the Homeland”.

“The power in the country has been seized in its entirety,” said a military statement quoted by Turkish media.

It said the coup had been launched “to ensure and restore constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms and let the supremacy of the law in the country prevail, to restore order which was disrupted”.

“All our international agreements and commitments retain their validity,” the statement added.

“We hope our good relations will continue with all countries in the world.”

Erdogan, speaking from what a presidential source said was a secure location, urged people to take to the streets to resist the coup.

“I certainly believe that coup plotters will not succeed,” he said, speaking on a mobile phone via FaceTime in his first reaction to the move by the Turkish armed forces.

“I urge the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports. I never believed in a power higher than the power of the people.” 

Erdogan said he was still president and Turkey’s commander in chief, promising that plotters would pay a “very heavy price”. 

It was earlier reported that the president was on vacation in the Mediterranean resort of Marmaris.

Television pictures showed tanks deployed outside Ataturk airport in Istanbul. Reports said that flights into the airport had been halted.

US President Barack Obama has been briefed, with US National Security Council spokesman Ned Price saying: “The president’s national security team has apprised him of the unfolding situation in Turkey.”

The EU called for “restraint and respect for democratic institutions” in Turkey.

Neighbouring Greece said it was following the situation closely.

– History of coups –

Turkey has a history of coups, with governments ousted on three occasions by full military coups since 1960.

However, analysts had usually assumed that Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had good relations with the military.

Earlier on Friday, security forces had partially shut down the two bridges across the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul as military jets were heard flying low over Ankara, reports and AFP correspondents said.

The Bosphorus and Fatih bridges were closed by the gendarmerie — a branch of the Turkish military dedicated to internal security — for traffic travelling from Asia to Europe, NTV television said. 

AFP correspondents said that Istanbul had been turned into a ghost town after the events, with people who had been outside for a Friday night rushing home for safety.

But some on the streets were hailing news of the coup.

“Now things are changing — Turks are on fire,” Fethi Karabas, a 27-year-old tour guide in Taksim Square, told AFP.

“We have hope now,” he added. “Turkey has been in a very polarised state for almost 15 years now… This is the manifestation of all that anger.”

Rojhat Dogru, a Turkish Kurd on holiday in Istanbul, added: “I am very happy. Erdogan is a murderer but now he is dead.” 

Reactions were swiftly pouring in from around the world, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calling on Turkey to avoid all “bloodshed”.

“Problems in Turkey need to be resolved in accordance with the constitution,” Lavrov said, speaking in Moscow at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The US diplomat said he hoped for “peace and continuity” in Turkey, while a Greek government source said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had been “briefed by the head of secret services” about the developments.

sjw/kjl/ser

Updated: Friday, July 15, 2016 – 2:56 PM

(AFP) Turkey’s army launched a coup attempt on Friday in a country that has seen three full military coups since 1960.

Here are some key facts on the strategically important Muslim-majority nation which is battling threats on two main fronts, against Islamic State group jihadists and Kurdish militants.

– Between Europe and Asia -Turkey shares borders with Syria, Iran and Iraq but also EU members Greece and Bulgaria. With a Black Sea coastline facing Russia, it has been a NATO frontline state for more than 60 years.

Covering about 784,000 square kilometres (300,000 square miles), Turkey is slightly smaller than Pakistan but larger than the US state of Texas.

It has played a key role in Europe’s migrant crisis, having taken in more than two million Syrian refugees, compared with its own population of around 78 million.

A NATO member since 1952, it is strategically placed to take part in the US-led fight against Islamic State jihadists, but waited for almost a year to join air strikes on Syria and to open its air bases to US planes.

It has criticised Russia’s intervention in Syria, which has provoked several airspace incidents along its border.

The capital Ankara has a population of around five million. Istanbul is the largest city and industrial and commercial hub with more than 15 million people.

– Troubled political life -The Republic of Turkey was created as a secular state in 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman empire at the end of World War I.

Its founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was president until his death in 1938. His successor Ismet Inonu introduced multi-party democracy in 1946. Turkey witnessed repressive military coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

In 1997 the Turkish military also forced out current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s late mentor Necmettin Erbakan from the premiership.

The Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in November 2002. Its leader Erdogan was prime minister from 2003 until 2014, when he became the first Turkish president directly elected by the people.

Since July 2015, Turkey has suffered heavy violence with the resumption of the Kurdish conflict against the background of the war in Syria and a series of bloody attacks

A de facto ceasefire with the PKK was broken in July 2015 when the government launched an unprecedented two-pronged “anti-terror” operation against jihadists in Syria and Kurdish militants in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq.

Since 1984, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has led an armed rebellion in the Kurdish-majority southeast that has claimed more than 45,000 lives.

Western concerns have also mounted about the state of democracy and freedom of speech in Turkey after several raids on media groups and a string of prosecutions of journalists.

– Major attacks -Since mid-2015 Turkey has seen a string of attacks with mass fatalities.

In October of that year, in the bloodiest attack in Turkey’s history, 103 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in twin suicide bombings targeting a pro-Kurdish peace rally in Ankara. The prime minister said IS was the main suspect.

In 2016, seven major attacks claimed more than 120 lives including the latest on June 28.

In that attack, 45 people were killed, including foreigners, and over 200 injured in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. There was no claim of responsibility but authorities said evidence points to the Islamic State group.

– Migrant crisis -Turkey has taken in 2.7 million Syrians from the brutal war that broke out across its border in 2011, making it host to the largest refugee population in the world.

Many Syrian refugees have launched attempts to reach Europe from Turkey’s shores, making the perilous journey by sea to Greece.

Under a controversial deal between the European Union and Turkey that came into force in March, failed asylum seekers face being sent back from the Greek islands to Turkey.

bur-har/mfp

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Updated: Friday, July 15, 2016 – 2:54 PM

(AFP)  Turkish troops launched a coup Friday, with soldiers taking to the streets of Ankara and Istanbul as the prime minister vowed the putschists would “pay the highest price”.

Jets screeched low overhead in the capital, while citizens rushed for the safety of their homes.

State broadcaster TRT said the military had declared martial law and a curfew, in a statement signed by a group calling itself the “Council for Peace in the Homeland”.

“The power in the country has been seized in its entirety,” said a military statement quoted by Turkish media.

It said the coup had been launched “to ensure and restore constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms and let the supremacy law in the country prevail, to restore order which was disrupted”.

“All our international agreements and commitments retain their validity,” the statement added.

“We hope our good relations will continue with all countries in the world.”

Television pictures showed tanks deployed outside Ataturk airport in Istanbul. Reports said that flights into the airport had been halted.

AFP correspondents said that Istanbul had been turned into a ghost town after the events, with people who had been outside for a Friday night rushing home for safety.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Friday denounced what he said was an “illegal attempt” by elements of the military.

“We are working on the possibility of an attempt. We will not allow this attempt,” he told NTV television by telephone, without expanding on the nature of the move but saying it was by a group in the Turkish military.

“Those who are in this illegal act will pay the highest price,” he added, insisting it would not be correct to describe the move as a “coup”.

Neighbouring Greece said it was following the situation closely, while US President Barack Obama has been briefed.

“The president’s national security team has apprised him of the unfolding situation in Turkey,” said US National Security Council spokesman Ned Price.

– History of coups -Turkey has a history of coups, with governments ousted on three occasions in the last decades by full military coups.

However analysts had usually assumed that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had good relations with the military.

There has been no comment so far from Erdogan. It was earlier reported that the president was on vacation in the Mediterranean

But presidential sources said: “This is an attack against Turkish democracy. A group within the Armed Forces has made an attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government outside the chain of command.

“The statement made on behalf of the Armed Forces wasn’t authorised by the military command. We urge the world to stand in solidarity with the Turkish people,” the sources added.

Turkey’s top general was taken hostage at the military headquarters in the capital Ankara after the attempt to bring down the government, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“General Hulusi Akar has been taken hostage by a group in the military who attempted an uprising,” the agency said citing “credible sources”.

“Problems in Turkey need to be resolved in accordance with the constitution,” Lavrov said.

Turkish security forces on Friday partially shut down the two bridges across the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul as military jets were heard flying low over Ankara, reports and AFP correspondents said.

The Bosphorus and Fatih bridges were closed by the gendarmerie — a branch of the Turkish military dedicated to internal security — for traffic travelling from Asia to Europe, NTV television said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he hoped for “peace and continuity” in Turkey while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking at a joint press conference in Moscow, called on Turkey to avoid all “bloodshed”.

The prime minister of neighbouring Greece “has been briefed by the head of secret services” about the developments, a government source said.

sjw/kjl

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

(AFP) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday vowed that “coup plotters” would not succeed, calling on people to take to streets in his support after a military group announced a power grab.

“I certainly believe that coup plotters will not succeed,” Erdogan told CNN Turk television, speaking on FaceTime via mobile phone in his first reaction to the move by the Turkish armed forces.

“I urge the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports. I never believed in a power higher than the power of the people.”

Erdogan said he was still president and Turkey’s commander in chief, promising that plotters would pay a “very heavy price.” A presidential source said Erdogan was in a secure location as per government protocol.

fo/sjw/mfp

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Posted: Friday, July 15, 2016 – 2:07 PM

Turkey’s top general has been taken hostage at the military headquarters in the capital Ankara after an attempt to bring down the government, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“General Hulusi Akar has been taken hostage by a group in the military who attempted an uprising,” the agency said citing “credible sources”.

fo/sjw/kjl

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