Turkish police officers stand guard outside a courthouse building in Istanbul, August 15, 2016. (Photo by AP)
Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 73 air force pilots as part of Ankara’s ongoing crackdown on alleged plotters and sympathizers of the July 15 coup attempt.
The arrest warrants were issued on Thursday as police forces launched operations across 17 provinces to detain the pilots over their alleged links to US-based opposition figure Fethullah Gulen, Anadolu reported.
The operations focused on an air base in the central Turkish province of Konya, the news
According to Turkey
’s private Dogan news agency, the suspects are accused of “armed rebellion against the Turkish Republic” and membership in what Ankara calls the Fethullah terror organization or FETO.
The latest detentions will bring to more than 300 the number of pilots dismissed or arrested as part of the coup investigation.
Other media reports said more than 200 soldiers and civilians were to be arrested in coup-related operations on Thursday.
Last week, police detained 47 soldiers in a similar operation focused on the Konya base, of which 29 were subsequently remanded in custody, according to Dogan.
On Wednesday, Ankara said it had replaced three quarters of provincial police heads as part of the crackdown.
Since the July 15 coup attempt, Turkey has arrested 35,000 people and sacked or suspended more than 100,000 others in the civil service, judiciary, police, military
Gulen denies involvement in the failed coup.
The crackdown has raised concerns among European countries and human rights organizations, who have urged the Turkish government to show restraint and act within the rule of law.