ISTANBUL (AP) — Funeral ceremonies and prayers for those killed in Turkey’s failed military coup were held Sunday in Ankara and Istanbul, where the grief-stricken relatives mourned the price their loved ones paid to protect Turkey’s democracy. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, firmly back in charge after the attempted putsch, was among those in mourning.
“God bless the society who resisted,” said Lutfi Pala, a relative of one of the victims. “Our wish is that such coups never happen in Turkey, but it happens. They are martyrs. May God rest their soul.”
Prayers were read simultaneously from Turkey’s 85,000 mosques at noon to honor those who died in the attempted military coup. Sela prayers are traditionally recited from mosques during funerals, though they are also sometimes performed to rally the people, as they were all night Friday during tense coup hours.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said 161 pro-government forces and civilians were killed in the coup attempt, and a general said 104 coup plotters died. A government official said autopsies have been completed on 165 people, including 115 reclaimed by their families. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulation.
Forty policemen, including twin brothers, were killed when the renegade soldiers attacked a special forces station in Ankara.
The victims also included Erol Olcak, the campaign manager for Erdogan, and his 16-year-old son Abdullah, who were killed when renegade soldiers opened fire on protesters Friday night at one of the Bosporus bridges in Istanbul. Photojournalist Mustafa Cambaz also died following calls by Erdogan for supporters to oppose the coup attempt, killed by gunfire in the streets of Istanbul.
The elder brother of one of Erdogan’s chief advisers was also killed by gunfire while protesting the coup in front of Istanbul’s municipality building. Ilhan Varank died during clashes that lasted five hours.
Erdogan attended the funeral of Varank and five others at a mosque in Istanbul’s Fatih neighborhood, accompanied by former president Abdullah Gul and a large security detail.
Addressing mourners, Erdogan vowed to purge all state institutions of supporters of a US-based Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who his government blames for the botched coup. He said Turkey would request the extradition of the cleric, who has denied any involvement in the coup.
Crowds chanted “Fethullah will come and pay!” “Allah is great!” and “We want the death penalty!”
Erdogan was overpowered by emotion at the funeral and shed tears. He used a handkerchief to wipe away the tears and turned around as he continued to weep.
Erdogan vowed to take the country forward in “unity and solidarity.”
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press