Turkey quashes military coup after night of violence, arrests

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim declared Saturday that a military coup to take over the government had failed after a night of violence that left hundreds dead and thousands detained.


Turkish authorities have closed the airspace around Incirlik airbase in the southern part of the country, according to CNN. Incirlik has been a key base for U.S. airstrikes against ISIS. President Obama on Saturday morning called for an emergency national-security meeting.

An estimated 265 people had been killed as of Saturday morning, 161 of them were reportedly civilians, police and soldiers. An estimated 104 “coup plotters” were also killed. More than 1,440 people were injured, according to the Prime Minister.

As of Sunday morning, 6,000 people had been arrested, said Turkish justice minister, Bekir Bozdağ, in a television interview.

Gen. Umit Dundar, the acting head of the military, declared at a news conference on Saturday that “the people have taken to the streets and voiced their support for democracy. The nation will never forget this betrayal.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had been on vacation in Turkey’s Black Sea, returned to Istanbul early Saturday. After the coup began, Erdogan, a frequent critic of the media and who has censored social media in the past, used FaceTime to contact CNN Turk and encourage the Turkish people to take to the streets.


Erdogan blamed the uprising on Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who lives in exile in Pennsylvania. Gulen, an ally of Erdogan's until recently, has a strong following among the police, according to The New York Times.

"I have a message for Pennsylvania: You have engaged in enough treason against this nation. If you dare, come back to your country," Erdogan said.


Speaking at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, Erdogan said the coup is a “gift from God, because this will help us clean our military from the members of this gang.” Yildirim suggested the death penalty will be used against plotters of the coup.

Meanwhile the capital, Ankara, was rocked by explosions Friday night, including a bomb that reportedly hit the Parliament building, according to Reuters. There were reports of low-flying aircraft and tanks in the streets of Ankara.


Soldiers had taken over Istanbul's Bosphorus Bridge, which unites Europe and Asia on Friday night, but they surrendered it early Saturday, according to footage on CNN Turk.

At CNN Turk in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, soldiers reportedly took over the building while the network remained on air. The journalists were evacuated, and shots were fired. There were early reports that a journalist was shot.


Istanbul’s airport, a major transit hub for Europe and the Middle East, was closed Friday after the military attempted to take it over. The airport, which was rocked by a terrorist attack in June that killed 40 people, had resumed normal operations on Saturday.