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Turkish authorities arrest more than 6,000 people after failed coup attempt

Turkey's presdient said those behind the coup would pay a heavy price, but that it was "a gift from God" because it "will be a reason to cleanse our army."
Photo via EPA

Turkish authorities are continuing to crack down on suspected dissidents in the wake of Friday night's attempted military coup, when plotters commandeered jets, tanks, and helicopters in a failed bid to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

More than 6,000 military personnel and other individuals have been detained, including 2,700 judges, according to Reuters. On Sunday, an arrest warrant was issued for Erdogan's top military aide.


"This virus, like a cancer, spread to all the state institutions," Erdogan said at the funeral for one of the victims, promising to purge the state of traitors.

A video from Turkey's Anadolu news agency purportedly showed police detaining the alleged military leaders of the coup.

VIDEO: Turkish police interrogate senior army officers allegedly involved in failed #TurkeyCoup - @anadoluagency
— Conflict News (@Conflicts) July 17, 2016

On Saturday, Erdogan said those behind the coup would pay a heavy price, but that it was "a gift from God" because it "will be a reason to cleanse our army." Erdogan has also floated the possibility of reinstating the death penalty, which was abolished in Turkey in 2004.

Violence rocked the nation's capital, Ankara, and Istanbul for several hours on Friday as coup plotters tried to seize control of parliament buildings, the airport and the main bridge in Istanbul that connects Turkey's Asian side with its European side. At least 265 people were killed on Friday, and more than half of the victims were reportedly civilians.

Related: A timeline that explains how the failed coup in Turkey unfolded

On Sunday, eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece in a military helicopter after the coup failed appeared before a prosecutor in the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis. The men, who said they were seeking political asylum in Greece because they feared for their lives, were accused of illegally crossing the border. Turkish authorities want them to be extradited.

Erdogan has blamed Fethullah Gülen — a Turkish cleric who lives in self-imposed exile in the US — for masterminding the plot. Gülen strongly denies any involvement and suggests instead that the coup attempt was staged by Erdogan as a means to consolidate power. Erdogan is demanding Gülen's extradition. US Secretary of State John Kerry said he was willing to entertain the idea, but that Turkish authorities would first have to prove Gülen was involved in the coup attempt.

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