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Turkey intelligence agency: Coup attempt ‘repelled’

4- Turkish soldiers stay with weapons at Taksim Square as people protest against a military coup attempt in Istanbul on July 16, 2016. (AFP)

The Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) says a coup attempt in the country has been "repelled" and the situation has been restored to “normal”.

In comments carried by Turkish broadcaster NTV on Saturday morning, the MIT spokesman said the intelligence agency’s headquarters was targeted by hijacked military helicopters, but the coup attempt was "foiled”.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also announced in the early hours of Saturday morning that the situation is largely under control and that a no-fly zone was imposed over the capital Ankara.

Yildirim added that Chief of Military Staff Hulusi Akar and other high-ranking commanders are now in charge of the situation. The country’s state news agency had earlier reported that Akar was being “held hostage” at the military headquarters.

According to Reuters, Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT is also now back on air.

Citing witnesses, Reuters also reported that some 30 soldiers in the coup attempt surrendered their weapons to police in Istanbul’s Taksim Square.

An NTV report said a Turkish Air Force F-16 jet shot down a Sikorsky helicopter operated by the army group attempting the coup.

Hours earlier, the Turkish military said it had fully seized control of the country and that the rule of law must remain a priority.

"The power in the country has been seized in its entirety," said a military statement read on NTV television, without giving further details. 

The statement went on to say that the military aims to "reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms," and "to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated." 

"All international agreements and commitments will remain. We pledge that good relations with all world countries will continue," the military statement added.

It further vowed to try all those who “have betrayed the country” in “fair courts.”

Turkish soldiers block Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge on July 15, 2016. (Getty Images)

According to Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency, a bomb hit the parliament building in Ankara following the death of 17 police officers in an aerial attack on the Ankara Special Forces headquarters.

Erdogan vows to overcome situation 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is reportedly safe, although there has been no immediate report about his whereabouts. 

Speaking on cellphone to CNN Turk, the Turkish president said this is an act encouraged by "parallel structure".

He also called on the Turkish people to flood the streets and defy a curfew that was imposed nationwide by the coup leaders, adding that the attempted coup will be resolved within a short time.

Reports said the Turkish president was returning to the capital Ankara, contradicting earlier reports that he was leaving the country.

Erdogan speaking to CNN Turk on July 16, 2016

Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News quoted Erdogan as telling CNN Turk that the US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen was to blame for the attempted coup.

“We will not leave the ground to them,” Erdogan further said, vowing to end the “occupation” by the “minority group”.

However, a group affiliated with the opposition Gulen Movement condemned the coup attempt against the Turkish government.

"We condemn any military intervention in the domestic politics of Turkey,” read part of a statement by the Alliance for Shared Values as quoted by AFP.

Turkish security officers detain police officers on the side of the road on July 15, 2016 in Istanbul, during a security shutdown of the Bosphorus Bridge. (AFP)

A TRT correspondent told Reuters that soldiers were inside the broadcaster’s building.

Earlier, the Turkish prime minister said an "illegal attempt" by "a group" in the military was underway and security forces were taking necessary measures to resolve the situation.

He said those involved in the coup attempt would "pay the highest price" for their actions.

Reports also said that a number of tanks had surrounded the Turkish parliament and opened fire near the building. NTV also aired footage of tanks at the entrance to Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.

Gunfire could be heard across the capital as military warplanes and helicopters were flying low over the city.

Helicopters were flying over Istanbul, the country's biggest city, whose Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges were reported to have been closed by military forces.

Firefighters try to extinguish the fire caused by an explosion on a street in the Turkish capital Ankara on July 16, 2016.

Global reactions pouring in

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed his deep concern about the crisis in neighboring Turkey in a message on his twitter account, saying "stability, democracy and the safety of the Turkish people are paramount."

The Iranian foreign minister said in another tweet that "Turkish people's brave defense of democracy & their elected government proves that coups have no place in our region and are doomed to fail."

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani also said the Islamic Republic is concerned about the situation in Turkey, adding that Iran is in full control of all its ground and aerial borders with the neighboring country. He further said that Tehran believes the Turkish nation’s security and peace will be jeopardized by instability in the country.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that bloodshed should be avoided in Turkey, and that the situation should be settled within a constitutional framework. He also called on his countrymen in Turkey to stay indoors.

The Russian foreign minister made the statement during a joint press conference with his US counterpart John Kerry, who also expressed hope for peace in Turkey.

“I hope there will be stability and peace and continuity within Turkey, but I have nothing to add on what has transpired at this moment,” Kerry was quoted by US media as saying.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called for "restraint" in Turkey after the attempted coup.

"In constant contact with EU Delegation in Ankara & Brussels from Mongolia. Call for restraint and respect for democratic institutions #Turkey," she wrote in a tweeted from a regional summit in Ulaanbaatar.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said in a statement that the Western military alliance supports Turkey’s democratic institutions.

“I call for calm and restraint, and for full respect for Turkey’s democratic institutions and its constitution. Turkey is a valued NATO ally,” Stoltenberg said. “I have just spoken to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. I am following events in Turkey closely and with concern.” 

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