Turkey: 161 Dead, Thousands Arrested as Coup Quashed
PM vows military plotters 'will pay a heavy price'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2016 5:47 AM CDT
Turkish people holding flags are driven in a car towards Istanbul's iconic Bosporus Bridge, Saturday, July 16, 2016.    (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
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(Newser) – Forces loyal to Turkey's president say they quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles, and gunfire that left dozens dead as Saturday dawned. Authorities arrested thousands of people as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed those responsible "will pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey," the AP reports. Gen. Umit Dundar, the newly appointed acting chief of the general staff, said officers from the Air Force, the military police and the armored units, were mainly involved in the attempt. The uprising appears not to have been backed by the most senior ranks of the military, and Turkey's main opposition parties quickly condemned the attempted overthrow of the government. Turkish Prime Minister Benali Yildirim said 161 people had been killed and 1,440 wounded in the overnight violence. He said 2,839 plotters had been detained.

Yildirim described the night as "dark stain for Turkish democracy" and said the perpetrators "will receive every punishment they deserve." Fighting continued into the early morning, with the sounds of huge blasts echoing across Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, including at least one bomb that hit the parliament complex. Television footage showed images of broken glass and other debris strewn across a lobby leading to the assembly hall. The chaos capped a period of political turmoil in Turkey—a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against ISIS—which critics blamed on Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissidents and opposition media, and renewed conflict in the mainly Kurdish areas of the southeast.
 

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