Over 250 dead in coup bid, almost 3,000 held
ANKARA, Turkey (8th UPDATE) – Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday, July 16, that 161 people were killed in the coup attempt against the government, with 2,839 soldiers now detained on suspicion of involvement.
Yildirim, speaking outside his Cankaya palace in Ankara and flanked by top general Hulusi Akar who was held during the coup attempt, also described the putsch bid as a "black stain" on Turkish democracy. He added that 1,440 people had been wounded.
The toll 161 did not include the assailants, he emphasized. Turkey's acting army chief Umit Dundar had earlier said 104 putschists had been killed.
Yildirim blamed the coup attempt on the supporters of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara has for years accused of working to overthrow the authorities and wants to see brought to justice. (READ: Erdogan enemy Gulen denies behind Turkey coup attempt)
The United States has shown little interest so far to Turkey's requests for his extradition.
"Fethullah Gulen is the leader of a terrorist organization," the premier said.
"Whichever country is behind him is not a friend of Turkey and in a serious war against Turkey," he added.
'Like a horror movie'
Jets bombed near Turkey's presidential palace in Ankara early Saturday. Plumes of black smoke were seen rising over the Bestepe district where the palace is located, NTV reported.
A presidential source said Turkish F-16s launched air strikes against tanks outside the palace.
A Turkish citizen told Rappler about the chaos in Istanbul and Ankara.
"Jets (F-16s) are flying very low over these cities and you cannot imagine the noise. It is like a horror movie. I also hear some bombing," she recounted.
She added: "I sincerely hope that this will come to an end soon. My hands are shaking and we don't deserve this at all."
Earlier on Saturday, an official said Yildirim has instructed the military to shoot down an aircraft hijacked by coup plotters.
"Fighter jets have left the air base in Eskisehir" in western Turkey with the aim of hunting down the rogue craft, the official said. (READ: World powers urge 'stability' in Turkey)
Yildirim earlier said in comments to NTV television that the situation in Turkey was "largely under control" after a military attempt to bring down the government.
Turkey's intelligence agency MIT was targeted by hijacked helicopters but the coup attempt was "foiled", its spokesman told the channel, adding that there were no casualties at MIT. (READ: Defiance turns to panic in coup-hit Istanbul) – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com