Turkey coup: Military says seized power 'to protect democratic order'

16 July 2016 - 00:58 By REUTERS, AFP

Turkey's armed forces said on Friday they had taken power in the country to protect the democratic order and to maintain human rights."The power in the country has been seized in its entirety," said a military statement read on NTV television, without giving further details. The military's website was not immediately accessible.Turkey's Erdogan urges supporters to take to streets in protest of military coupTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan urged people to take to the streets to protest against what he described as a coup attempt by a minority faction within the military, vowing that it would meet with a "necessary response". In a statement sent by email and reported on Turkish TV channels, the military said all of Turkey's existing foreign relations would be maintained and that the rule of law would remain the priority.Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim denounced what he said was an "illegal attempt" by elements in the military after bridges were partially shut down in Istanbul and jets flew low over Ankara.Turkish security officers detain Turkish police officers (in black) on July 15, 2016 in Istanbul, during a security shutdown of the Bosphorus Bridge.  Image: AFP"We are working on the possibility of an attempt. We will not allow this attempt," he told NTV television by telephone, without expanding on the nature of the move but saying it was by a group in the Turkish military."Those who are in this illegal act will pay the highest price," he added, saying it would not be correct to describe the move as a "coup". Turkey's chief of military staff was among people taken hostage at the military headquarters in Ankara on Friday, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported, while another broadcaster, CNN Turk said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was safe.Strong explosion heard in Turkish capital Ankara - reportsA strong explosion was heard in the Turkish capital on Friday after the army said it had seized power and declared martial law and a curfew, AFP journalists reported. ssFootage on local television channels showed military vehicles blocking bridges over the Bosphorus in Istanbul and tanks deployed at the city's main airport. In the capital Ankara, warplanes and helicopters roared overhead. Ankara'daki jetler pic.twitter.com/iCTd5ARKVw
— Hazal Koptagel (@HazalKoptagel) July 15, 2016 Images online appeared to show gunfire from an aircraft:Helikopterden ateş açılıyor canlı pic.twitter.com/h8ENDgfbgG
— Ⓐrden ✌ (@Havrekhshaeta) July 15, 2016 Turkish soldiers block both bridges on the Bosphorus in Istanbul and jets flying low in Ankara. Reason not clear yet pic.twitter.com/tMG7KKYvGh
— Selin Girit (@selingirit) July 15, 2016 All flights from Istanbul's Ataturk Airport have been cancelled, a Reuters witness said on Friday, citing a pilot.Martial law meanwhile been imposed across Turkey and a curfew declared as the country was now being run by a "peace council" that would not allow public order to be damaged, an announcer on Turkish state broadcaster TRT said on Friday, reading a statement on the orders of the military.Turkish military block access to the Bosphorus bridge, which links the city's European and Asian sides, in Istanbul. Image: ReutersThe announcer said the democratic and secular rule of law had been eroded by the current government and that a new constitution would be prepared as soon. Freedom of citizens was guaranteed by the "peace council", regardless of religion, race or language, the announcer said.Live in Istanbul's Taksim Square two dozen soldiers appear to be in a stand-off with police: journalist Dorian Jones https://t.co/hMgntgjiPZ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 15, 2016 SHIFT IN POWERIf successful, the overthrow of Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey since 2003, would amount to one of the biggest shifts in power in the Middle East in years.Turkey, a NATO member with the second biggest military in the Western alliance, is one of the most important allies of the United States in the fight against Islamic State.Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (C) is seen between Turkey's Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar (L) and Greek Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis (R), Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff. File Photo. Image: ReutersIt is a principal backer of opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country's civil war, and host to 2 million Syrian refugees.The country has been at war with Kurdish separatists, and has suffered numerous bombing and shooting attacks this year, including an attack two weeks ago by Islamists at Istanbul's main airport that killed more than 40 people.After serving as prime minister from 2003, Erdogan was elected president in 2014 with plans to alter the constitution to give the previously ceremonial presidency far greater executive powers.His AK Party, with roots in Islamism, has long had a strained relationship with the military and nationalists in a state that was founded on secularist principles after World War One, and which has a history of military coups.SOCIAL MEDIA RESTRICTEDAccess was restricted in Turkey on Friday to Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc's YouTube shortly after news that a military coup was under way, according to two internet monitoring groups.Turkey Blocks, a group that monitors internet shutdowns in the country, and Dyn, which monitors internet performance and traffic globally, both reported it was difficult or impossible to access social media services in Turkey.FOREIGNERS URGED TO TAKE SHELTERThe U.S. State Department on Friday told U.S. citizens in Turkey to "shelter in place and stay indoors"."U.S. citizens in #Turkey should shelter in place & stay indoors. Update family/friends of your status when possible," the State Department tweeted.France also asked its citizens in Turkey to stay indoors."A message was sent saying that serious events were taking place in Ankara and Istanbul," said a French diplomatic source. "French citizens have been asked to stay inside."

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