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1000s of Turks celebrate abortive coup plot in Istanbul

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
People celebrate a failed military coup against the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on July 16, 2016. ©Reuters

Thousands of Turks have taken to the streets of Istanbul to celebrate a failed military coup against the Ankara government that plunged the country into hours of violence and intrigue.

The protesters marched to Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Saturday, waving Turkish flags and honking horn.

Some demonstrators climbed on top of Taksim’s central monument commemorating the founding of the Turkish Republic.

A number of protesters expressed their support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, chanting his name and carrying his pictures.

Women hold Turkish flags in Istanbul on July 16, 2016 during a demonstration celebrating a failed military coup against the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip. ©AFP

The botched putsch began late on Friday, when a faction of the Turkish military blocked Istanbul’s iconic Bosphorus Bridge and strafed the headquarters of Turkish intelligence and parliament in the capital, Ankara.

Tanks, helicopters and soldiers clashed with police and people on the streets of the two main Turkish cities.

Erdogan rushed back to Istanbul from a Mediterranean holiday and called on people to defy the coup plotters’ orders of a curfew and stage a rally in support of his government.

With the putsch foiled, Turkish authorities rounded up almost 3,000 suspected military plotters on Saturday and ordered 2,745 judges and prosecutors to be arrested.

According to the latest reports, the death toll from Turkey’s failed coup stands at 265, including 161 mostly civilians and police as well as 104 coup supporters.

People take cover as soldiers and police shoot at each other on Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul on July 16, 2016, following an attempted coup. ©AFP

Meanwhile, Turkey has demanded the extradition of eight people thought to have been involved in the attempted putsch who landed in a military helicopter in Greece.

Erdogan blamed Fethullah Gulen for the coup plot, but the US-based cleric “categorically” denied the claim and described it as “insulting.”

Gulen has, however, urged the Turkish people not to view military intervention in a positive light.

“There is a slight chance, there is a possibility that it could be a staged coup,” Gulen said. “It could be meant for court accusations and associations.”

The Turkish president has repeatedly accused the cleric of plotting to overthrow him by building a network of supporters in the media, judiciary and education, an allegation the cleric denies.

Erdogan and Gulen were allies until police and prosecutors, seen as sympathetic to the latter, opened a corruption investigation into Erdogan’s inner circle in 2013.

The investigation led to the resignation of the ministers of economy, interior, and urbanization. Gulen is also viewed to be behind the leaks that led to the probe.

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