Members of the Turkish armed forces are escorted by police on July 17, 2016, over their suspected involvement in the coup attempt of July 15. (Photo by AP)
Turkish officials have arrested more than a dozen army pilots on charges of affiliation to the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen
, whom Ankara accuses of having orchestrated the failed July 15 coup.
Security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Sunday that 18 airmen had been detained in 17 provinces across the country.
The arrests came after Chief Public Prosecutor Bestami Tezcan of Konya province issued warrants for the arrest of 73 pilots, 71 lieutenants and two colonels, on October 27 as part of the large-scale purge of the military
Renegade Turkish military personnel declared themselves in charge of state matters on the night of July 15. The defectors rolled battle tanks down the streets and flew helicopters to fight proponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party in the capital Ankara and Istanbul.
The putsch was later extinguished as tens of thousands of people flooded the streets across Turkey
in a strong show of support for Erdogan. Over 240 people lost their lives and more than 2,100 others sustained injuries in the botched putsch.
Gulen has censured the coup attempt and roundly rejected any involvement.
Turkish nationwide television news
channel NTV, citing Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, reported on October 23 that security forces had arrested more than 35,000 people over alleged links to Gulen’s movement. He added that another 3,907 individuals were going to be arrested.
The senior Turkish official said some 82,000 people had been investigated in connection with the failed coup, and tens of thousands of them had been suspended, dismissed or jailed.