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Turkey orders arrest of 122 over links to abortive coup

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)
Police officers stand guard to prevent protesters from marching on Taksim Square to mark May Day on May 1, 2019, in Istanbul. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish prosecutors have ordered the detention of 122 people suspected of having links to an opposition figure Ankara blames for a 2016 coup attempt against the government.

Turkish police on Tuesday launched nationwide operations to arrest the 122 after prosecutors in Istanbul, Konya and Izmir issued arrest warrants against them over their alleged links to the network of US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Military personnel — some still on active duty and some already sacked – are among the suspects.

According to the agency, 41 suspects have been arrested so far.

During the 2016 botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.

Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan, has denied involvement. The cleric has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

The Turkish government is seeking Gulen's extradition from the United States but Washington has so far rejected Ankara's requests.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. About 150,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.

The Ankara government says the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.

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