Turk­ish troops hunt re­main­ing coup plot­ters as crack­down widens

More than 1,000 members of the se­cu­rity forces were in­volved in the man­hunt for the 11 rogue sol­diers in the hills around the Mediter­ranean coastal re­sort of Mar­maris, where Erdogan was hol­i­day­ing on the night of the coup at­tempt, officials said.

Metro USA (Boston) - - NEWS - REUTERS

Turk­ish spe­cial forces backed by he­li­copters, drones and the navy hunted a re­main­ing group of com­man­dos thought to have tried to cap­ture or kill Pres­i­dent Tayyip Erdogan dur­ing a failed coup, as a crack­down on sus­pected plot­ters widened on Tues­day.

Erdogan and the gov­ern­ment ac­cuse U.S.-based Mus­lim cleric Fethul­lah Gulen of or­ches­trat­ing the at­tempted power grab and have launched a crack­down on his sus­pected fol­low­ers. More than 60,000 sol­diers, po­lice, judges and civil ser­vants have been ar­rested, sus­pended or put un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The re­li­gious af­fairs di­rec­torate re­moved an­other 620 staff in­clud­ing preach­ers and in­struc­tors in the Ko­ran on Tues­day, bring­ing to more than 1,100 the num­ber of peo­ple it has purged since the July 15 coup at­tempt.

For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu said two Turk­ish am­bas­sadors, cur­rently in Ankara, had also been re­moved. For­mer Is­tan­bul gover­nor Huseyin Avni Mutlu was de­tained and his house searched.

“There is no in­sti­tu­tion which this struc­ture has not in­fil­trated,” Erdogan’s son-in-law, En­ergy Min­is­ter Berat Al­bayrak, said in a tele­vised in­ter­view, re­fer­ring to Gulen’s net­work of fol­low­ers.

“Ev­ery in­sti­tu­tion is be­ing as­sessed and will be as­sessed,” he said. The re­sponse from the Turk­ish author­i­ties would, he said, be just and not amount to a witch-hunt.

The coup at­tempt raised par­tic­u­lar ques­tions about the air force, some of whose se­nior members were deeply in­volved, and could lead to the re-in­ves­ti­ga­tion of past in­ci­dents in­clud­ing the down­ing by the Turk­ish mil­i­tary of a Rus­sian war­plane near the Syr­ian bor­der last year, Al­bayrak said.

The in­ci­dent pro­voked Rus­sian trade sanc­tions but there are signs of rapprochement, with Tur­key thank­ing Moscow for its solid sup­port dur­ing the abortive putsch. By con­trast it has frosty ties with Europe, which has crit­i­cized the post-coup crack­down, and with the United States, which it has urged to ex­tra­dite Gulen.

Al­bayrak made the com­ments as the high­estlevel Turk­ish del­e­ga­tion since the down­ing of the jet vis­ited Moscow and officials announced a planned meet­ing be­tween Erdogan and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin next month.

“Erdogan will be ea­ger to send a mes­sage to Wash­ing­ton and EU cap­i­tals that Tur­key has other op­tions,” said Tim Ash, a strate­gist at No­mura and a vet­eran Tur­key watcher.

The Turk­ish par­lia­ment set up on Tues­day a com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate the coup at­tempt, with the back­ing of all po­lit­i­cal par­ties. It will also ex­am­ine the al­le­ga­tions that the Gulen move­ment in­fil­trated the gov­ern­ment and in­sti­gated the coup at­tempt.

Ranked sol­diers from the Turk­ish Army’s elite forces con­duct an op­er­a­tion to cap­ture the wanted plot­ter sol­diers. GETTY IM­AGES

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