Turkey cracks down after failed coup, 6,000 arrested

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July 18, 2016 (LBO) – Turkey cracked down on suspected supporters of a failed military coup on Sunday, taking the number of people rounded up in the armed forces and judiciary to 6,000.

President Tayyip Erdogan and the government accused former ally Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen who is based in the U.S., of orchestrating the coup.

He said a “terror group” led by Gulen had “ruined” the armed forces, that its members were being arrested in all military ranks, and that a purge of this “virus” would continue, CNBC reported.

Gulen, who is based in Pennsylvania in the U.S., denied any connection with the coup. Turkey has said it is putting together an extradition request for the cleric. The U.S. government has said it would consider any formal request.

A statement from the Turkish embassy in Colombo on Saturday said: “The situation which unfolded in Turkey was a coup attempt to overthrow the democratically-elected government. This attempt was foiled by the Turkish people in unity and solidarity.?

“Our President and Government are in charge. Turkish Armed Forces were not involved in the coup attempt in its entirety. It was conducted by a clique within the Armed Forces and received a well-deserved response from our nation.”

The president has called on Turks to stay on the streets until Friday, and late into Sunday night, his supporters thronged squares and streets, honking horns and waving flags.

The violence shocked the nation of almost 80 million, once seen as a model Muslim democracy, where living standards have risen steadily for more than a decade and where the army last used force to stage a successful coup more than 30 years ago.

It also shattered fragile confidence among Turkey’s allies about security in the NATO country, which is a leading member of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State. Turkey had already been hit by repeated suicide bombings over the past year and is struggling to contain an insurgency by Kurdish separatists.

France’s foreign minister said on Sunday that questions needed to be asked on whether Turkey was a viable partner in the fight against Islamic State in Syria.

He said he would raise the issue at meeting of the anti-Islamic state coalition in Washington next week.

With expectations growing of a heavy clampdown on dissent, European politicians warned Erdogan the coup attempt did not give him a blank check to disregard the rule of law, and that he risked isolating himself internationally as he strengthens his position at home.