|Stats: 286 members, 6,383 topics. Date: March 25, 2017, 2:36 pm|
F-16 fighter jets will continue to patrol airspace over Istanbul and Ankara following the failed coup attempt in Turkey, a source in the president's office has said. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also given his country's air force orders to shoot down any military helicopters taking off from Istanbul, the source added. Turkey has reportedly suspended almost 8,000 police officers following Friday's failed coup. A total of 8,777 public officials, also including 30 governors and more than 50 high-ranking civil servants have been removed from their posts, while 103 generals and admirals are among those arrested, according to Turkish media. The purge of state structures and presence of F-16 jets suggests authorities fear the threat against Mr Erodgan is not over, even amid a crackdown that has seen more than 6,000 people arrested. At least 290 people have been killed and more than 1,400 wounded since coup plotters ordered tanks into major cities and sent fighter jets to fire on key government installations. The rebellion was put down by local government forces and masses of civilians who took to the streets.
An official reportedly said the president "evaded death by minutes" when the plotters launched an assault on a hotel in Marmaris where he had been staying shortly after he left. As the cabinet prepared to meet for its first regular session since the upheaval, security forces staged further raids on military facilities in search of suspected plotters. Air Force Academy premises and residences in Istanbul were searched early on Monday, according to the Andalou news agency, although it was unclear if arrests were made. In the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis, eight Turkish military personnel who landed in Greece in a helicopter during the coup attempt are due to appear in court. The eight have requested asylum, claiming they knew nothing about the coup attempt, while Turkey is seeking their return. Turkey's military attache to Kuwait, Mikail Ihsanoglu has also been detained by Saudi authorities while en route to Dusseldorf in Germany, the Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya has reported.
The European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned on Monday that the bloc would send "a strong message" about the need for protecting the rule of law. "There is no excuse for any steps that take the country away from that," she added. Johannes Hahn, the commissioner dealing with Turkey's bid for EU membership said it looked like the Turkish government had prepared a list of people to arrest before last Friday's failed coup. Judges and military commanders are among 6,000 people who were arrested over the weekend as Mr Erdogan vows to stamp out the "virus" of the coup plotters. Deputy Prime Minister 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. "All of these (judiciary officials) did not necessarily have first-degree knowledge about this pro-junta initiative. "Had they succeeded (with the coup) it is clear that these people would have been included into this business. "Therefore, anyone connected to this group will be exposed."
The government has claimed that the coup conspirators were loyal to moderate US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Mr Erdogan has suggested Turkey might reinstate capital punishment, which was abolished in 2004 as part of the country's bid to join the EU. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said an extradition request for Mr Gulen would be entertained, but Turkey would have to produce "legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny". WikiLeaks has said it is planning to release more than 100,000 documents on Turkey's political power structure following the unrest.
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