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Turkey presses post-coup purge as almost 9,000 officials sacked; West voices concern

Turkey launched fresh raids and sacked almost 9,000 officials Monday in a relentless crackdown against suspected coup plotters that has alarmed the West and sparked fears Ankara could reinstate the death penalty.


Turkey presses post-coup purge as almost 9,000 officials sacked; West voices concern
Turkish citizens wave their national flags as they protest against the military coup outside Turkey's parliament near military headquarters in Ankara, July 16, 2016.

Istanbul: Turkey launched fresh raids and sacked almost 9,000 officials Monday in a relentless crackdown against suspected coup plotters that has alarmed the West and sparked fears Ankara could reinstate the death penalty.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to wipe out the "virus" of the putschists after facing down Friday`s dramatic coup bid that left more than 300 people dead.

But the United States and European Union have sternly warned him against excessive retribution as the authorities round up the alleged perpetrators of the attempted power grab. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel`s spokesman denounced "revolting scenes of caprice and revenge against soldiers on the streets" after disturbing pictures emerged of the treatment of some detained suspects.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said over 7,500 people have been detained so far, including 103 generals and admirals, in the investigation into Friday`s coup which Erdogan has blamed on his arch-enemy, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

The interior ministry said almost 9,000 people, including almost 8,000 police but also municipal governors and other officials, had also been dismissed in a widening purge.

Early Monday, special Istanbul anti-terror police units raided the prestigious air force military academy, detaining four suspects, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Authorities have also detained General Mehmet Disli, who conducted the operation to capture chief-of-staff Hulusi Akar during the stand-off, an official said.

The 103 generals detained are accused of seeking to violate the constitution and attempting to overthrow the authorities by force, as well as belonging to what the authorities call the Fethullahci Terror Organisation (FETO) led by Gulen.

Erdogan has urged citizens to remain on the streets even after the defeat of the coup, in what the authorities describe as a "vigil" for democracy.

Public servants` annual leave has meanwhile been cancelled until further notice.

With Turkey`s big cities still on edge, Turkish security forces killed an armed attacker who shot at them from a vehicle outside the Ankara courthouse where suspects from the failed coup were appearing before judges.Western leaders have urged Turkey to follow the rule of law in the wake of the coup bid, with the massive retaliatory purge adding to concerns about human rights and democracy in the NATO member state.

"We also urge the government of Turkey to uphold the highest standards of respect for the nation`s democratic institutions and the rule of law," US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters after talks with EU foreign ministers.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also stressed to Erdogan in telephone talks it was "essential" Turkey respects legal due process.

Responding to the criticism, Yildirim said the plotters would be brought to account but Turkey would "act within the law".

But the divisive Erdogan added fuel to the fire Sunday when he told supporters that Turkey could consider reintroducing the death penalty which it had abolished in 2004 as part of its longstanding EU membership bid.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini responded bluntly on Monday.

"Let me be very clear... no country can become an EU state if it introduces the death penalty," she said.

Yildirim said it would be wrong to "act in haste", calling for a parliamentary debate on the issue.

There has also been concern about the nature of the arrests which have appeared aimed at humiliating the suspects.

Meanwhile, a Greek court will Thursday decide the fate of eight Turkish military officers who fled across the border by helicopter after the failed coup in Turkey and who Ankara wants to see extradited.The turbulence has raised concern about the stability of Turkey, a key NATO member which is also part of the international coalition against Islamic State jihadists in Syria.

It has also hit financial markets, with the lira at one point losing five percent in value against the dollar although it rallied slightly on Monday. The stock market meanwhile fell eight percent.

Erdogan has long accused Gulen of running a "parallel state" in Turkey, and urged Obama to extradite the reclusive preacher from the United States to face justice.

The 75-year-old preacher has categorically denied any involvement in the plot and suggested it could have been staged by Erdogan himself.

Kerry said he had urged his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to "send us evidence, not allegations."

In another development, Turkish prosectors have started searching a key air base in southern Turkey, used by the United States for air raids on the Islamic State group, for evidence Turkish troops there assisted the coup.

Yildirim said 208 people were killed during the coup bid, including 145 civilians, 60 police and three loyalist soldiers.

In addition, the military said 104 coup plotters were killed.

From Zee News

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