The attempted military coup launched late Friday in Turkey was thwarted, interim army chief General Umit Dundar told a press conference in Istanbul on Saturday, and indicated that 104 of those behind the effort to overthrow the government had been executed.
“The coup attempt has been foiled,” General Dundar said, adding that 90 people — 41 police, 47 civilians and two military officers — “fell as martyrs.” He said the other 104 fatalities were “coup plotters.”
The state-run Anadolu news agency said more than 1,100 people had been wounded.
Dundar said many army commanders had been taken by the coup plotters to “unknown locations,” and that the attempted putsch “was rejected by chain of command immediately.”
“The armed forces is determined to clear the army of members of parallel structure,” he said, referring to loyalists of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen blamed for orchestrating a coup to topple the government. He also confirmed that 1,563 soldiers had been arrested in connection with the coup. Gulen condemned the coup bid, and denied any connection to it.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his part took to Twitter to urge Turks to stay on the streets, warning against a “new wave” of opposition to his rule.
Dundar was appointed interim military leader in place of General Hulusi Akar, who was detained by the plotters Friday night, before being freed Saturday morning in a military operation at an airbase on the outskirts of Ankara. Akar took over the command of the operation against the coup plotters following his release, CNN-Turk said.
Dundar said officers from the Air Force, the military police and the armored units were mainly involved in the attempt. Colonels and generals implicated in the rebellion were fired.
Erdogan flew into Ataturk airport early Saturday and was greeted by large crowds. He told them: “They have pointed the people’s guns against the people. The president, whom 52 percent of the people brought to power, is in charge. This government brought to power by the people is in charge. They won’t succeed as long as we stand against them by risking everything.”
Fighting continued into early Saturday morning, with the sounds of huge blasts echoing across Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, including at least one bomb that hit the parliament complex. Television footage showed images of broken glass and other debris strewn across a lobby leading to the assembly hall.
CNN-Turk said two bombs hit near the presidential palace, killing five people and wounding a number of others.
The chaos capped a period of political turmoil in Turkey which critics blamed on Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule, which has included a government shake-up, a crackdown on dissidents and opposition media and renewed conflict in the mainly Kurdish areas of the southeast.
Turkey, a NATO member, is a key partner in US-led efforts to defeat the Islamic State group, and has allowed American jets to use its Incirlik air base to fly missions against the extremists in nearby Syria and Iraq. A coup against the democratically elected government could make it difficult for the United States to continue to cooperate with Turkey.
The US and European Union both expressed support for what they said was Turkey’s democratically elected government.