Wed | Sep 20, 2017

President vows 'heavy price' for coup plotters

Published:Sunday | July 17, 2016 | 7:00 AM
A police officer walks amid debris caused by a military helicopter bombardment inside Turkey’s Parliament near the Turkish military headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, on Saturday.

ANKARA (AP):

Forces loyal to Turkey's president quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left some 265 people dead and more than 1,400 wounded yesterday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that those responsible "will pay a heavy price for their treason" as authorities arrested or dismissed thousands of troops and more that 2,500 judges.

The chaos last Friday night and yesterday came amid a period of political turmoil in Turkey - a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group - that critics blame for Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule.

shaken up the government

Staying in power by switching from being prime minister to president, Erdogan has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissidents, restricted the news media and renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels.

The government has also come under pressure from hosting millions of refugees who have fled violence in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, and from a series of bloody attacks blamed on Islamic State extremists and Kurdish rebels.

Erdogan was on a seaside vacation when tanks rolled into the streets of Ankara and Istanbul, blocking key bridges. From a cell phone, he delivered a televised address that called for huge crowds to come out and defend Turkey's democracy which they did in Ankara, the capital, and in Istanbul, facing off against troops who had blocked key Bosporus bridges that link the city's Asian and European sides.

a failure

Erdogan flew home early yesterday and declared the coup a failure.

"They have pointed the people's guns against the people. The president, whom 52 per cent of the people brought to power, is in charge. This government, brought to power by the people, is in charge," he told large crowds after landing at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.

Editor's note: Jamaica's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has indicated that a three-member, all-female, Jamaican delegation is now in Istanbul, participating in the 40th Session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO and all the members are safe.

The ministry said it has made contact with one other Jamaican in Turkey, who is also safe, and attempts are being made to contact other Jamaicans who are studying or working in that country.