ISTANBUL: Turkey has detained over 6,000 people over the coup plot aimed at ousting the govermment and the number will rise, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Sunday.
“Now the clean-up operations are continuing. We have around 6,000 people detained. The number will increase above 6,000,” he was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Turkish authorities were on Sunday rounding up dozens of generals as well as senior judges and prosecutors accused of supporting a failed military coup aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
NTV television earlier said that 34 generals of various grades had been detained so far. They include senior figures like Erdal Ozturk, commander of the third army and commander of the Malatya-based second army Adem Huduti.
The authorities have been carrying out raids at military bases across Turkey in search of those suspected of supporting the coup, which has claimed at least 265 lives.
In an operation early Sunday, at the garrison in the western town of Denizli, its commander Ozhan Ozbakir was detained along with 51 other soldiers, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.
The crackdown is however not restricted to the military and Anadolu said that prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for a total of 2,745 judges and prosecutors across Turkey.
It was not clear how many had been detained so far but the private Dogan news agency said 44 judges and prosectors were detained overnight in the central city of Konya and 92 in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.
The entire investigation is being led by Ankara prosecutors and those arrested are suspected of belonging to the group the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen who Turkey accuses of masterminding the coup. Gulen denies the charges.
Turkey accuses Gulen of leading a group called the “Fethullahci Terror Organisation (FETO)” that has created a parallel state. Gulen’s supporters say their group which they call Hizmet (Service) is entirely peaceful.
US President Barack Obama had warned Turkey there is a “vital need” for all parties to “act within the rule of law” in the aftermath of the coup.