Tensions with West rise as gov't continues purge
ANKARA, Turkey (AP):
The purging of thousands of alleged plotters of a failed coup raised tensions yesterday between Turkey and the West, with the United States and European officials urging restraint, while Ankara insisted Washington extradite an exile accused of orchestrating the plot.
Authorities have fired nearly 9,000 police officers, bureaucrats and others, while detaining thousands more alleged to have been involved in Friday night's attempted coup, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Former air force commander Akin Ozturk, alleged to be the ringleader of the uprising, was put under arrest, following questioning by a magistrate, along with 25 other suspects, the news agency said. Ozturk, who has denied involvement and insisted he had tried to suppress the rebellion, appeared in video from Turkish TV looking bruised with a bandage over his ear.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to rule out bringing back the death penalty, telling broadcaster CNN in an interview via a government translator, "There is a clear crime of treason." He added that it would be up to parliament to decide.
Anadolu said 8,777 employees attached to the Interior Ministry were dismissed, including 30 governors, 52 civil service inspectors and 16 legal advisers. Other media reports said police, military police and members of the coast guard also were removed from duty.
During the uprising by a faction of the military, warplanes fired on government buildings and tanks rolled into the streets of major cities before the rebellion was put down by forces loyal to the government and civilians who took to the streets. The top brass did not support the coup.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said 232 people - 208 government supporters he called "martyrs," as well as 24 coup plotters - died in the unrest. His voice cracked and he wept as he spoke with reporters after a Cabinet meeting and repeated a question his grandson had put to him: "Why are they killing people?"
He said he had no answer, but that Turkey would make the coup plotters answer "in such a way that the whole world will see".