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Erdogan accuses former air force chief of leading coup in Turkey

Published July 19th, 2016 - 04:00 GMT
The Turkish policeman restrains a man during an operation in front of a courthouse in Ankara. (Twitter)
The Turkish policeman restrains a man during an operation in front of a courthouse in Ankara. (Twitter)

The former head of Turkey's air force is being named by government officials on Monday as the domestic ringleader of the failed coup attempt over the weekend which left 290 people dead.

Akin Ozturk was shown under arrest and battered as one of more than 100 generals and admirals who are accused of being part of the violent putsch effort.

More than 6,000 people have been arrested, including soldiers and judges, among them two members of the country's top court. Arrest warrants were issued for 250 judges and prosecutors, while 2,745 judges were dismissed from their posts at the weekend.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who survived the coup attempt, has pledged the "cleansing" of state institutions will continue, saying a cancer had spread like a "virus" and needed to be eradicated.

The government is blaming the coup attempt on Fethullah Gulen, a US-based, Turkish-born preacher and one-time ally turned rival of Erdogan accused of running a "parallel state." Gulen strongly denies any involvement.

Incirlik airbase, used for the US-led coalition bombing campaign against Daesh extremists in Syria and Iraq, was again opened for operations after being shut for a day after the coup attempt.

General Bekir Ercan Van, commander of the airbase in southern Turkey, was arrested with 10 of his soldiers.

The Anadolu news agency reported late Sunday that 14 soldiers in Marmaris, where Erdogan was on holiday at the time of the putsch, had been arrested. The group had allegedly been responsible for a planned attack on Erdogan's hotel, and he later described a bombing there after his departure.

Erdogan said he will discuss with opposition parties in parliament about the possibility of capital punishment for those who carried out the failed coup attempt.

Capital punishment has not been used in Turkey since 1984 and was abolished in 2004.

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