Turkey’s military chief says the soldiers involved in the abortive coup of mid-July will face “the most severe punishment.”
Hulusi Akar, the chief of the General Staff of Turkey’s armed forces, made the remark on Sunday during a visit to the Turkish Interior Ministry in the capital Ankara to inspect the damage caused during the coup attempt. The military chief is also scheduled to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“These cowards in uniform, these traitors have inflicted great damage on our nation and especially on our army,” General Akar stated.
About 300 police officers and nearly 3,650 soldiers have been detained on charges of having a hand in the failed coup.
The putsch began overnight on July 15, when a faction of the Turkish military declared it was in control of the country and the Ankara administration was no more in charge. Tanks, helicopters and soldiers then clashed with police and people on the streets of the capital and Istanbul.
The coup was gradually suppressed by military forces and people loyal to Erdogan. More than 300 people were killed from both sides, many of them on July 16. A sweeping wave of arrests engulfed the Anatolian country in the wake of the abortive coup. President Erdogan says the death toll from the coup attempt has risen to 246 people, excluding the coup plotters.
Tens of thousands of soldiers, security officers, judges, prosecutors, civil servants and academics suspected of being connected to the Gulen movement have been detained or suspended from their jobs following the putsch. Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric, has been accused by Ankara of orchestrating the coup attempt. He “categorically” rejects the claim.
Ankara has also launched a large-scale crackdown following the coup attempt. On July 21, the Turkish parliament approved a bill declaring a state of emergency, which allows Ankara to bypass the legislature in adopting new laws.
In a pre-recorded address broadcast on the national television on Saturday, President Erdogan said that so far, 934 schools, 109 student dorms, 15 universities, 104 foundations, 1,125 charity organization, 35 health institutes and 19 unions have been shut down amid the government’s crackdown on those believed to have played a role in the failed putsch.