×

Turkey widens purges to police after coup bid, Europe warns on rule of law

Turkey suspended thousands of police officers on Monday, widening a purge of the armed forces and judiciary after a failed military coup, and raising concern among European allies that it was abandoning the rule of law.

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

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

Soliders involved in the coup attempt surrender on Bosphorus bridge on July 16, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Gokhan Tan | Getty Images
Soliders involved in the coup attempt surrender on Bosphorus bridge on July 16, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Thousands of members of the armed forces, from foot soldiers to commanders, were rounded up on Sunday, some shown in photographs 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.

More than 290 people were killed and around 1,400 wounded in the violence on Friday night, as soldiers commandeered tanks, attack helicopters and fighter jets in a bid to seize power, strafing parliament and the intelligence headquarters and trying to seize the main airport and bridges in Istanbul.

President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday told crowds of supporters, called to the streets by the government and by mosques across the country, that parliament must consider their demands to apply the death penalty for the plotters.

"We cannot ignore this demand," he told a chanting crowd outside his house in Istanbul late on Sunday. "In democracies, whatever the people say has to happen."

He called on Turks to stay on the streets until Friday, and late into Sunday night his supporters thronged squares and streets, honking horns and waving flags.

The bloodshed shocked the nation of almost 80 million, where the army last used force to stage a successful coup more than 30 years ago, and shattered fragile confidence in the stability of a NATO member state already rocked by Islamic State suicide bombings and an insurgency by Kurdish militants.