Istanbul, Jul 17: Turkish authorities rounded up dozens of senior military personnel and judges in a ruthless crackdown today, after thousands massed in the streets nationwide overnight to denounce a coup aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
World leaders including US President Barack Obama have strongly condemned the attempted putsch but also urged Turkey to respect the "rule of law" in its aftermath, especially after pictures emerged showing the rough treatment of some coup plotters when arrested.
According to the government, 161 civilians and regular troops lost their lives when a group within the army sought to overthrow the authorities by seizing key strategic points in Istanbul and Ankara. Over 100 coup plotters were also killed, the military has said.
The botched coup bid marked the biggest challenge to Erdogan's rule in 13 years as prime minister and now president. But he successfully mobilised supporters into the streets to face down the plotters.
Thousands responded late yesterday to a new call by the president to pour into the squares to celebrate the "victory of democracy" with mass rallies of flag-waving Turks reported in cities including Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. Europe Minister Omer Celik urged people to stay on the streets, writing on Twitter that the "vigil for democracy" continues.
The Turkish authorities have made clear they will show no mercy in the wake of the coup, accusing the plotters of acting on behalf of Erdogan's arch enemy, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.
The government has already said that almost 3,000 soldiers had been detained on suspicion of involvement in the putsch which raised fears of chaos in the strategic NATO member state of almost 80 million.
Turkish television has shown images of captured coup plotters forced to lie face down on the tarmac after arrest while AFP photographers have seen suspects roughly led away pursued by angry mobs. NTV television said that 34 generals of various grades had been detained so far.
They include senior figures like Erdal Ozturk, commander of the third army and the commander of the Malatya-based second army, Adem Huduti. In an operation early Sunday, authorities detained the commander of the garrison in the western town of Denizli, Ozhan Ozbakir, along with 51 other soldiers, according to the state-run Anatolia news agency.