Report: Military Coup Under Way in Turkey

The Turkish government claims to have seen off an attempted military coup that began on Friday afternoon as President Erdogan was on holiday in the south of the country.

Update 0900 EST / 1300 BST

AFP News agency reports comments by the Turkish Prime Minister that the total dead in the coup bid are 161, with 3,000 now taken prisoner. Despite claims that the situation is totally under control by the turkish government, it is thought coup plotters are still offering resistance in some areas.

Those who escaped Turkey to neighbouring Greece have been identified by Athens News Agency and reportd by AFP as three majors, three captains and two sergeant majors.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara had asked Athens to send back the eight.

“We have requested Greece to extradite the eight traitors as soon possible,” Cavusoglu was quoted as telling HaberTurk television.

According to an official in the Greek National Defence General Staff, “the helicopter is scheduled to be sent back immediately to Turkey”.

“As far as the asylum seekers are concerned, we are going to proceed according to the international law” Olga Gerovassili, the Greek government spokeswoman, said.

She said Athens was “in constant contact with the Turkish authorities”, and would take into account the fact that “the asylum seekers took part in a coup against the Turkish constitution”.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras early Saturday expressed his “support for the democratically elected” Turkish government.

Update 0630 EST / 1030 BST

According to reports in Greek media, a Turkish military helicopter has landed at Alexandroupolis airport. GreeceReporter states the aircraft was escorted by two Greek airforce fighter jets and requested permission to land, claiming it was suffering from mechanical failure.

Once on the ground it was found to be carrying seven Turkish army officers and one civilian involved with the failed overnight coup, who subsequently claimed asylum in Greece. GreeceReporter states their arrival causes a huge “headache” for the Greek government given the determination of their significantly larger and more militarily powerful neighbour Turkey to severely punish the coup plotters.

The website also reported unconfirmed reports that some coup plotters had already been beheaded.

The website carries this as of yet unverified photograph of a Blackhawk helicopter consistent with the kind used by the Turkish armed forces:

GreekR

Update 0535 EST / 1035 BST

A summary of events of the past few hours from a Reuters newswire:

ISTANBUL/ANKARA, July 16 (Reuters) – Forces loyal to the Turkish government fought on Saturday to crush the remnants of a military coup attempt which crumbled after crowds answered President Tayyip Erdogan’s call to take to the streets and dozens of rebels abandoned their tanks.

Ninety people were killed, including many civilians after a faction of the armed forces tried to seize power using tanks and attack helicopters. Some strafed the headquarters of Turkish intelligence and parliament in the capital, Ankara, and others seized a major bridge in Istanbul.

Erdogan appeared to accuse the coup plotters of trying to kill him and said he would purge the armed forces, which in the past have staged a number of successful coups, although not for more than 30 years.

“They will pay a heavy price for this,” he said. “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.” Later, the presidency warned on Twitter that another uprising could be staged at any time.

Turkish authorities have already detained about 1,500 members of the armed forces, officials said. The chief of staff, who had been reported held hostage by the rebels, has been rescued, a senior official said.

A successful overthrow of Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey since 2003, would have marked one of the biggest shifts in the Middle East in years, transforming a major U.S. ally while war rages on its border.

However, a failed coup attempt could still destabilise a NATO member that lies between the European Union and the chaos of Syria, with Islamic State bombers targeting Turkish cities and the government also at war with Kurdish separatists.

Erdogan, who had been holidaying on the southwest coast when the coup was launched, flew into Istanbul before dawn on Saturday and was shown on TV outside Ataturk Airport.

Addressing a crowd of thousands of flag-waving supporters at the airport later, Erdogan said the government remained at the helm, although disturbances continued in Ankara.

Erdogan, whose Islamist-rooted ideology lies at odds with supporters of modern Turkey’s secular principles, said the plotters had tried to attack him in the resort town of Marmaris.

“They bombed places I had departed right after I was gone,” he said. “They probably thought we were still there.”

The acting armed forces chief of staff, Umit Dundar, reported heavy casualties. Among the 90 dead were 47 civilians while a further 1,154 people had been wounded.

In a live statement broadcast on CNN Turk, Dundar said many military commanders have been taken hostage by the rebels but he declared that Turkey has “closed the chapter” on coups for good.

Erdogan’s AK Party, with roots in Islamism, has long had a strained relationship with the military and nationalists. The armed forces have had a history of mounting coups to defend secularism, but have not seized power directly since 1980.

Operations involving police special forces and the military were still underway to regain control of the armed forces headquarters in Ankara, one official said.

Update 0515 EST / 1015 BST

Latest pictures from Turkey via Getty Images:

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Pro-Erdogan Turks celebrate capturing an army tank / Getty

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Coup soldiers drop their arms and surrender / Getty

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A police officer with the counter-revolutionary forces is hugged by cheering Erdogan supporters / Getty

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Erdogan flags are hung on an APC / Getty

Pro-government supporters climb onto a tank as it runs over a car during a protest in Ankara agaist a military coup

Pro-government supporters climb onto a tank as it runs over a car during a protest in Ankara agaist a military coup last night / AFP

Update, 0445 EST / 0945 BST

President Erdogan is clawing back control in Turkey after the attempted military coup appears to have failed. Agence France Presse reports over 100 revolutionary soldiers were killed overnight, and more than 1,500 soldiers have been arrested. Although Erdogan has been able to enter Istanbul fighting has not yet ceased as rebels still hold the army headquarters and according to claims by the new cheif of staff appointed by Erdogan last night, they are holding senior generals hostage.

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Five other famous coups in history.

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Bold leadership here:

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https://twitter.com/RamiAILoIah/status/754081123630710785/video/1

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Wow:

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A fascinating development if true:

And this would be the chaser:

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Predictably, Obama comes out in support or Erdogan:

The ground behind the coup clearly did not believe they would have the White House’s support:

Update, 7:20PM EST:

From the New York Times:

ISTANBUL — The prime minister of Turkey said on Friday night that factions of the military had attempted a coup. There were sharply conflicting statements about who was in control of the country, a NATO member and important United States ally, which has been convulsed by military takeovers at least three times over the past half-century.

“Some people illegally undertook an illegal action outside of the chain of command,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in comments broadcast on NTV, a private television channel. “The government elected by the people remains in charge. This government will only go when the people say so.”

Shortly after Mr. Yildirim spoke, the Turkish military issued a statement, according to the news agency DHA, claiming it had taken control of the country.

“Turkish armed forces seized the rule of the country completely with the aim of reinstalling the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to make rule of law pervade again, to re-establish the ruined public order,” the statement quoted by DHA said. “All the international agreements and promises are valid. We hope our good relations with all global countries goes on.”

The state-run Anadolu News Agency said hostages had been taken at military headquarters in Ankara, the capital, including the chief of staff.

Update, 7:19PM EST:

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From LiveLeak comes footage of that military helicopter firing on a ground target, reportedly the headquarters of the National Intelligence Service:


Update, 5:50 PM EST

After reports of heavy gunfire near the presidential palace, AFP is reporting that a “strong explosion” has been heard in Ankara. The U.S. Embassy in Turkey confirmed the gunfire in Anakra. Eyewitnesses report some of the gunfire came from military helicopters.

Erdogan’s address to the nation, which used Apple’s FaceTime as well as Skype, was a rather bizarre spectacle:

Update, 5:45 PM EST

The coup appears to have a name, the “Turkish Peace Council.” Turkey’s Justice Minister has claimed the coup is led by followers of Erdogan’s nemesis, U.S.-based imam Fethullah Gulen.

Update, 5:40 PM EST

President Erdogan resorted to using Skype and Facebook to address the people of Turkey, telling them to leave their homes, flood the airport, and remain outside in defiance of the military curfew.

Update, 5:30 PM EST

The coup is acting like they have this whole thing just about wrapped up, while the Erdogan government behaves as if it remains in power. European Union observers are reporting that military forces have taken control of airports and strategic points across Istanbul.

The UK Guardian reports chaos in the streets of Istanbul, with “people running in all directions,” while “restaurants and shops are closing,” and “cars are honking their horns and driving on the wrong side of the road.”

The Telegraph reports that President Erdogan has given a statement, in which he described the coup as “an uprising attempt by a minority within the military,” and spoke of a “parallel structure” within the Turkish government.

Erdogan reportedly attempted to fly back to Turkey, but was refused landing clearance in Istanbul, and is now seeking asylum in Germany.

Update, 5:20 PM EST

U.S. military forces at Turkish airbases, including the main base at Incirlik, have been ordered to “Force Protection Condition Delta,” their highest alert level.

A broadcast on state TRT television has declared that “Erdogan’s rule has come to an end.” The military has imposed martial law, and is reportedly already at work on a new constitution.

Update, 5:15 PM EST

All flights from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport have reportedly been canceled. According to the UK Telegraphtroops have been seen at the headquarters of the state television channel, TRT, in Ankara.

A televised statement from the coup, whose exact membership is not yet known, announced that “the power in the country has been seized in its entirety.”

“A Turkish official who did not want to be named said soldiers had been deployed in other cities in Turkey, but did not specify which ones,” Reuters relates. “Dogan News Agency reported the national police directorate had summoned all police to duty in Ankara.”

Update, 5:00 PM EST

The UK Guardian cites “numerous reports that hostages have been taken in the Turkish capital, Ankara,” among them the chief of military staff. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not among the hostages; he’s on vacation, and is not in Turkey at the moment.

The Turkish military released a statement: “Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law and general security that was damaged. All international agreements are still valid. We hope that all of our good relationships with all countries will continue.”

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The UK Telegraph reports that while Prime Minister Binali Yildirim urged the public to remain calm, and said “it would be wrong to call it a coup,” he conceded that “part of the military” was making an “illegal attempt” to seize power.

It sounds like a spirited attempt, judging from tidbits of information flowing onto social media:

Social media services Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were reportedly blocked shortly before 11:00 PM local time.


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