Turkey reportedly detains 103 military officials, cancels vacations after failed coup
Turkey detained a total of 103 generals and admirals for questioning and canceled all vacations for public workers, part of the government's latest crackdown over the failed coup that left hundreds of people dead, Turkish media reported Monday.
Separately, Turkey's Interior Ministry reportedly sacked 8,777 personnel across the country, including 30 governors, 52 civil service inspectors and 16 legal advisers. Also, seven prosecutors investigating the foiled coup entered Incirlik Air Base, which is used by the U.S.-led campaign battling the Islamic State terror group.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's office on Monday canceled all public servants' leave and asked employees currently on vacation to return to their duties. A statement from the office said the order would remain valid until further notice.
As many as 41 of those military officials were ordered jailed pending trial, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. A Turkish brigadier general at Incirlik was detained earlier for his alleged role in Friday's uprising. The specific reason for the prosecutors' appearances at the base Monday was unclear.
The government has blamed the failed coup -- which led to at least 294 deaths and wounded 1,400 others -- on supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has become President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's chief opponent.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. would entertain an extradition request for Gulen, but Turkey would have to present "legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny." So far, officials have not offered evidence he was involved.
Gulen, who lives in Saylorsburgh, Pennsylvania, espouses a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with democracy. He is a former Erdogan ally turned bitter foe who has been put on trial in absentia in Turkey, where the government has labeled his movement a terrorist organization. He strongly denies the government's charges.
Earlier, Anadolu reported that prosecutors in Ankara were questioning 27 generals and admirals, including former Air Force commander Gen. Akin Ozturk, who had been described as the ringleader of the foiled uprising.
Ozturk, who remained in active duty, has denied he was involved and insisted he worked to quell the uprising in statements he made to Turkish media.
Warplanes patrolled Turkey's skies Monday in a sign that authorities feared that the threat against the government was not yet over.
Anadolu reported that Erdogan ordered the overnight patrol by F-16s "for the control of the airspace and security."
The coup plotters sent warplanes firing on key government installations and tanks rolling into major cities, but the rebellion -- which was not supported by the military's top brass --was quashed by loyal government forces and masses of civilians who took to the streets.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and other officials urged people to take to streets at night, saying risks remained in its aftermath.
At nightfall, thousands of flag-waving people rallied in Istanbul's Taksim Square, Ankara's Kizilay Square and elsewhere. Erdogan remained in Istanbul despite statements that he would return to the capital and address crowds in Kizilay Square. News reports said close to 2,000 special forces police officers were deployed in Istanbul to guard key installations.
As the cabinet prepared to meet for its first regular session since the attempt, security forces continued raiding military facilities in search of suspected plotters. They searched the Air Force Academy premises and residences in Istanbul early on Monday, Anadolu reported.
The crackdown targeted not only generals and soldiers, but a wide swath of the judiciary that has sometimes blocked Erdogan, raising concerns that the effort to oust him will push Turkey even further into authoritarian rule.
The failed coup and the subsequent crackdown followed moves by Erdogan to reshape both the military and the judiciary. He had indicated a shake-up of the military was imminent and had also taken steps to increase his influence over the judiciary.
It is not clear how the post-coup purge will affect the judiciary, how the government will move to replace the dismissed judges and prosecutors, or where the trials for those detained would be held.
Yildirim said those involved with the failed coup "will receive every punishment they deserve." Erdogan suggested that Turkey might reinstate capital punishment, which was abolished in 2004 as part of the country's bid to join the European Union.
Even before the weekend chaos in Turkey, the NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group had been wracked by political turmoil that critics blamed on Erdogan's increasingly heavy-handed rule. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissent, restricted the media and renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels.
Also Monday, the Ankara governor's office announced that a military officer was detained after he shot and killed the driver of a vehicle that he hijacked.
In a brief statement, the governor's office said the officer -- whom it described as being mentally disturbed -- was caught by the security forces following a brief shootout. It was not immediately clear if the incident was related to Friday's failed coup attempt.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.