Erdogan: Turkey coup attempt ‘act of treason’

The Turkish president was speaking to the country live after arriving in Istanbul follow a failed coup attempt against his government

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday urged his supporters to remain on the streets until the situation normalizes after military officers attempted a coup.

He vowed to "punish" the coup plotters in events that have led to the death of 161 people, the injury of 1,154 others and the arrest of 2,839 soldiers on suspicion of involvement.

erdogan rally coup attempt
erdogan rally coup attempt

Addressing a crowd of thousands of supporters waving flags at Istanbul's main airport, Erdogan said the government remained at the helm. He also said disturbances continued in the capital Ankara and he hoped they would end soon.

Read also: Understanding the backdrop to Turkey’s failed military coup

Erdogan said he did not know the whereabouts of Turkey's General Hulusi Akar after the attempted coup, but just after Turkey appointed Umit Dundar as acting chief of military staff, security forces announced they had rescued Akar in an operation in Ankara, taking him to a safe location, the private CNN-Turk television reported.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar attend a funeral ceremony for Army officer Seckin Cil in Ankara, Turkey, February 18, 2016. (Reuters)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar attend a funeral ceremony for Army officer Seckin Cil in Ankara, Turkey, February 18, 2016. (Reuters)

Erdogan added that flights by flag carrier Turkish Airlines had resumed.

Meanwhile, Turkish authorities shot down a military helicopter apparently operated by soldiers trying to stage the coup as it fired on the offices of state satellite operator Turksat in the capital Ankara on Saturday, broadcaster CNN Turk said.

Turkish army F-16s also launched air strikes against tanks stationed by coup backers outside the presidential palace in Ankara, an official with the presidency said.

"Turkish F-16s have launched air strikes against tanks outside the presidential palace," the official said, adding that a military helicopter, which was involved in an attack against a Turkish satellite operator earlier, has been downed in the Golbasi district of Ankara.

Earlier, maritime authorities shut Istanbul's Bosphorus Strait to transiting tankers "for security and safety" reasons, shipping agent GAC said.

Some cargo carriers like bulkers were still being allowed to travel through the key shipping channel which divides Istanbul into European and Asian sides, GAC said.

The attempted coup by a section of Turkey's military was an act of treason and is a reason to "clean up" the armed forces, Erdogan said early on Saturday, hours after the armed forces attempted to overthrow him.

Erodgan also said in comments broadcast live on private station NTV that the attempted coup was the work of followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a cleric Erdogan has long accused of attempting to use his followers in the judiciary and military to overthrow the government.

He was speaking directly after arriving at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport at a conference held in one of its halls. Shortly after, he spoke directly to the thousands of supporters that showed up to greet the Turkish president.

“Those responsible will pay heavy price. This uprising was carried out by minority within military who can't stomach unity of country. It will be a reason to clean up the army,” he said.

Erdogan added that many arrests of officers are underway and it will go higher up ranks.

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