Chaos in Turkey as military launches coup

July 16, 2016 3:31 am
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A Turkish soldier stands on guard on the side of the road on July 15, 2016 in Istanbul, during a security shutdown/AFP
A Turkish soldier stands on guard on the side of the road on July 15, 2016 in Istanbul, during a security shutdown/AFP

, ANKARA, Turkey, Jul 16 – Elements of the Turkish military announced they had seized control of the country in a military coup on Saturday, sparking bloody clashes in Istanbul and Ankara.

An AFP photographer saw troops open fire on people gathered near one of the Bosphorus bridges in Istanbul and state-run news agency Anadolu reported that the parliament in Ankara has been bombed.

Overview
  • An AFP photographer saw troops open fire on people gathered near one of the Bosphorus bridges in Istanbul and state-run news agency Anadolu reported that the parliament in Ankara has been bombed
  • It was unclear who was in control of the strategic NATO country of 80 million people as tanks took to the streets and multiple explosions rang out in the country's two biggest cities.

It was unclear who was in control of the strategic NATO country of 80 million people as tanks took to the streets and multiple explosions rang out in the country’s two biggest cities.

Earlier in the night, a shaken President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared on television from an unknown location insisting he was still in power and vowing the putschists would pay a “very heavy price”.

“I certainly believe that coup plotters will not succeed,” he said, speaking on a mobile phone via FaceTime.

There was global alarm at the rapidly developing situation, as a presidential source said an F-16 fighter jet had shot down a helicopter hijacked by coup plotters.

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,” the statement said.

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”.

It was not yet clear whether the attempted takeover had been backed with the widespread support of the military, or just a few rogue elements within it.

Turkey’s once-powerful military has long considered itself the guardian of the secular state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923.

It has staged three coups since 1960 and forced out an Islamic government in 1997.

Erdogan’s critics have long accused him of undermining modern Turkey’s secular roots – but the president was believed to have won control of the military after purging elements who opposed him.

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