Attempt to overthrow Erdogan government in Turkey leaves 161 dead

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Photo credit: www.abc.net.au
Photo credit: www.abc.net.au

A military coup by a faction of the military to overthrow Erdogan-led government has been put down by military and police forces on July 15 night amid gunfire, leaving more than 160 dead.

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 16 announced that he was firmly in control of Turkey. Erdogan who flew into Istanbul’s Ataturk airport from the southwest coast where he was holidaying, was immediately shown on TV outside Ataturk Airport. He said, “It is nothing but treason. The coup supporters will pay a heavy price. They won’t succeed as long as we stand against them.”

Critics blamed his authoritarian rule for the coup. General Umit Dundar, the newly appointed acting chief of the general staff, said 41 police officers, two soldiers, 47 civilians and 104 people were responsible for plotting the coup.

Turkish PM Binali Yildirim says 161 people were killed, more than 1,440 wounded and 2,839 army members arrested including soldiers and officers, according to NDTV. In a televised address, he said that he will consider the death penalty for those who plotted the coup attempt.

While this was so, a Black Hawk helicopter carrying eight men landed in Alexandroupoli, Greece (close to the Turkish border), after issuing a distress signal due to a mechanical failure, Greek police said.  They were taken to the local police station where they requested political asylum, which is being considered. In response, Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, tweeted that Turkey has “requested the surrender of eight soldiers who escaped to Greece with a helicopter”.

Also, British Airways has cancelled all its flights to Turkey on July 16. It has been learnt that Yildirim has convened an emergency meeting to be attended by all legislators on July 16.

The coup attempt started with the military issuing a statement saying that it had seized control “to restore constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedom to ensure the rule of law once again reigned in the country.”

Turkey, a NATO member, is a key partner in US-led efforts to defeat the ISIS. A coup against the Turkish government is likely to make it difficult for the US to continue to cooperate with Turkey, news agencies stated.

Meanwhile, Union sports minister Vijay Goel said 149 Indian athletes taking part in the World School Games at Trabzon, Turkey are safe. “I have contacted the MEA and India’s Ambassador to Turkey and they confirmed that the athletes are safe,” he said in Bangalore, according to The Hindu. Also, a control room has been set up with the help of School Games Federation of India.