World

Thousands detained following failed coup

Turkey purged its police force yesterday after rounding up thousands of soldiers in the wake of a failed military coup, and said it could reconsider its friendship with the US unless Washington hands over a cleric Ankara blames for the coup.

Turkish authorities moved swiftly in retaliation for Friday night's coup bid, in which more than 200 people were killed when a faction of the armed forces tried to seize power.

But the swift justice, including calls to reinstate the death penalty for plotters, drew concern from Western allies who said Ankara must uphold the rule of law in the country which is a Nato member and also Washington's most powerful Muslim ally.

Thousands of members of the armed forces, from foot soldiers to commanders, were rounded up on Sunday. There were photos showing some of them stripped to their underpants and handcuffed on the floors of police buses and a sports hall.

Several thousand prosecutors and judges have also been removed.

A senior security official told Reuters that 8,000 police officers, including in the capital Ankara and the biggest city Istanbul, had also been removed from their posts on suspicion of links to Friday's coup bid.

Thirty regional governors and more than 50 high-ranking civil servants have also been dismissed, said CNN Turk.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said 7,543 people had so far been detained, including 6,038 soldiers.

Work was underway to purge the civil service.

Turkey blames the failed coup on Fethullah Gulen, a cleric based in the US, who has a wide following in Turkey but denies any involvement.

Ankara has demanded Washington hand him over.

Washington says it is prepared to extradite him but only if Turkey provides evidence linking him to crime.

REJECTED

PM Yildirim rejected that demand.

"We would be disappointed if our friends told us to present proof even though members of the assassin organisation are trying to destroy an elected government under the directions of that person," he said.

"At this stage, there could even be a questioning of our friendship."

Mr Yildirim said 232 people were killed in Friday night's violence, 208 of them civilians, police and loyalist soldiers, as well as 24 coup plotters.

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