The attempted coup by the armed forces in Turkey has been foiled. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan communicated via social media to address the country. President Erdogan, an avowed enemy of social media who has frequently made Twitter and Facebook a target, addressed the country via a FaceTime video call that was shown on TV.
He encouraged his supporters to take to the streets against the coup attempt. Erdogan, who had been holidaying on the coast when the coup was launched, flew into Istanbul.
During the initial phases of the uprising by a section of the military, it was difficult or impossible to access social media for many users except by using a “virtual private network” to bypass local internet providers, local residents and monitoring groups said.
Rebel soldiers in Ankara and Istanbul were still firing from the air early on Saturday, although fighter jets have taken off to deal with rogue military aircraft, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.
Erdogan has comfortably been in power for well over a decade and has brought in a lot of reform to the Turkish establishment and society. The military sees itself as upholders of Kemalism, the form of democratic nationalism and secularism ushered in by founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923. Erdogan on the other hand is considered an Islamist and conservative.
People demonstrated outside Ataturk international airport during an attempted coup in Istanbul, Turkey.
President Erdogan has said that a minority faction of military is behind the attempted coup. This is not the first attempted coup by the military in Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan branded the coup an act of “treason” and vowed to “harshly punish” those responsible, saying: “The ring leader who plotted all of this will pay the price in front of the nation.”
He called the coup “a gift from God” because it will now allow him to purge the military of “members of this gang”.
The Istanbul Police Chief has now said only 104 soldiers were involved in the coup and the ringleader has been named as Col Muharrem Kose, a former member of the Turkish Armed Forces.
The 62-year-old President claims he narrowly escaped death when the hotel he was staying in in the coastal city of marmaris was hit by a bomb.
A senior government minister said 42 people have been killed in Ankara and six others are dead in Istanbul – it is understood the total death toll has now risen to 60.
At around 11pm local time shots were fired in the capital Ankara, where helicopters and military jets were flying overhead.
Military vehicles blocked arterial roads around Ankara and stormed the buildings of major media outlets, including CNN.
Some 17 police died when a military aircraft was shot down.
Tanks are also said to have opened fire on the presidential building, while the parliament has been rocked by up to three bombs.
A member of government said ministers were hiding in bunkers within the parliamentary building.
Reports also suggest there has been a major explosion in the city while witnesses said missiles had been fired at the TRT media offices.
Both of Istanbul’s bridges across the Bosphorus, the strait separating the European and Asian sides of the city, have been closed to traffic.
Tanks also surrounded the entrance to Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport, where gunfire has been heard, but it is understood the government is now in control of the airport.
Flights in and out of the country are expected to resume in the coming hours after all Turkish airports were temporarily closed during the coup, sparking fears among British tourists that they would be trapped in the country.
(With inputs from Reuters)