The Turkish military on Friday night said that it had assumed power over Turkey, in what the prime minister termed an illegal act.
“The power in the country has been seized in its entirety,” said a military statement read on NTV television, without giving further details. The military’s website was not immediately accessible.
The military declared martial law and curfew on Friday night, TRT state television reported.
A Turkish news agency also published a statement from the military saying the armed forces have “fully seized control” of the country.
The Dogan agency reported that the statement said that the military did this “to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated.”
The military statement went on to say that “all international agreements and commitments will remain. We pledge that good relations with all world countries will continue.”
The army’s announcement came shortly after Turkey’s prime minister said a group within the military was engaged in what appeared to be an attempted coup, but said it would fail.
“It is correct that there was an attempt,” Binali Yildirim told NTV, but did not provide details. He said that Turkey would never allow any “initiative that would interrupt democracy.”
“We are working on the possibility of an attempt. We will not allow this attempt,” he told the television by telephone, without expanding on the nature of the move, but saying it was by a group in the Turkish military.
“There are certain groups who took the arms trusted to them by the state and pointed them toward state employees,” Yildirim said. “We shall determine soon who they are. Our security forces have acted against these groups.”
He said that, “Those who are in this illegal act will pay the highest price,” but added that it would not be correct to describe the move as a “coup.”
AFP correspondents said that Istanbul had been turned into a ghost town after the events, with people who had been outside for a Friday night rushing to the safety of their homes.
Turkey has a history of coups with governments ousted on three occasions in the last decades by full military coups.
However analysts had usually assumed that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had good relations with the military.
There has been no comment from Erdogan so far. But presidential sources said: “This is an attack against Turkish democracy. A group within the Armed Forces has made an attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government outside the chain of command.
“The statement made on behalf of the Armed Forces wasn’t authorized by the military command. We urge the world to stand in solidarity with the Turkish people,” the sources added.
Media reports said ambulances were seen in front of the Turkey’s military headquarters. Television pictures showed tanks deployed outside Ataturk airport in Istanbul. Reports said that flights into the airport had been halted.
Turkey’s top general was taken hostage at the military headquarters in the capital Ankara after the attempt to bring down the government, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“General Hulusi Akar has been taken hostage by a group in the military who attempted an uprising,” the agency said citing “credible sources.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry said he hoped for “peace and continuity” in Turkey. US President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation, the White House said.
Reports of possible coup first emerged when Turkish military jets were heard flying low over Ankara on Friday night, along with reports of tanks in the streets of the Turkish capital and the sounds of gunfire.
According to the Reuters news agency, a local witness said that military helicopters were seen also flying overhead in Ankara.
In Istanbul, both of the bridges into the city were closed, local media said, and traffic was reportedly being diverted. There was no explanation for the move, Reuters reported.
CNN Turk also said that the bridges over the Bosphorus River had been closed by military police.
Israel’s Channel 10 television reported that the British Embassy in Ankara was being evacuated.
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There were also reports that social media in Turkey had been shut down, even as information from the country still appeared to be filtering through on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
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