Turkey coup: Despite curfew, Turkish citizens take to the streets

Published July 15th, 2016 - 11:59 GMT
Turkish military control a road in Istanbul on July 16, 2016, after Turkish troops launched a coup. (AFP/Gurkan Ozturk)
Turkish military control a road in Istanbul on July 16, 2016, after Turkish troops launched a coup. (AFP/Gurkan Ozturk)

Turkey was thrown into turmoil early Saturday as a military coup unfolded, but with no clarity about how widespread the putsch was or what its chances of success might be.

A "group within the armed forces have made an attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government outside the chain of command," said an official with the office of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had clearly not been removed from office.

The official said an earlier Turkish military statement announcing a takeover was not issued by the top command. The website of the Turkish military was down, further raising questions about whether the coup was launched by the military leadership or a splinter group of soldiers.

The statement was read by an anchorwoman on state broadcaster TRT. She announced that there was a curfew across the country until further notice, citing the need for people's safety.

However, despite the curfew, the police - normally loyal to Erdogan - were not out on the streets of Istanbul.

Fighting broke out in Ankara, with tanks on the streets, according to reports from CNN Turk and witnesses on the ground.

Erdogan, who was reportedly in a safe location, telephoned broadcaster CNN Turk to say he remains president and the head of the army.

He called for the people to take to the streets against the coup. Witnesses reported crowds chanting "Allah Akhbar" (Praise Allah) in the streets of Istanbul.

There were large-scale military deployments in Ankara and Istanbul, both on the ground and in the air. There were reports of shots fired in Ankara. The army reportedly took over the airport in Istanbul and stopped flights, according to Dogan, after partially closing bridges.

Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on local television that there had been an "attempt" by elements within the military. He pledged that democracy would not be overthrown.

In 1997 the military forced the government from office in the "post-modern coup." The last full military takeover occurred in 1980, including suspension of the constitution.

Celebratory gunfire and fireworks filled the skies in Syrian areas under the control of president Bashar al-Assad as news circulated that the Turkish military was attempting to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, eyewitnesses in Damascus told dpa.

Erdogan has backed the Syrian uprising against al-Assad's regime  since it started in 2011.

US President Barack Obama has been briefed on the apparent coup, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says.

By Shabtai Gold

© 2022 dpa GmbH

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