Turkey says ex-air force chief is ringleader of coup attempt

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ISTANBUL, JULY 18, 2016 – The former head of Turkey’s air force has been named by government officials as the domestic ringleader of the failed coup attempt over the weekend which left 290 people dead.

Akin Ozturk was on Monday shown under arrest and battered as one of more than 100 generals and admirals accused of being part of the violent putsch effort.

More than 6,000 people have been arrested, including soldiers and judges, among them two members of the country’s top court.

Members of Turkey armed forces are escorted by police for their suspected involvement in Friday's attempted coup at the court house in Mugla, a Mediterrenean city of Turkey, Sunday, July 17, 2016. Following a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his government moved swiftly to shore up his power and remove those perceived as an enemy, saying it has detained 6,000 people. (Tolga Adanali/Depo Photos via AP)
Members of Turkey armed forces are escorted by police for their suspected involvement in Friday’s attempted coup at the court house in Mugla, a Mediterrenean city of Turkey, Sunday, July 17, 2016. Following a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his government moved swiftly to shore up his power and remove those perceived as an enemy, saying it has detained 6,000 people. (Tolga Adanali/Depo Photos via AP)

Arrest warrants were issued for 250 judges and prosecutors, and 2,745 judges.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who survived the coup attempt, has pledged the “cleansing” of state institutions will continue, saying a cancer had spread like a “virus” and needed to be eradicated.

The government is blaming the coup attempt on Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based, Turkish-born preacher and one-time ally turned rival of Erdogan accused of running a “parallel state.” Gulen strongly denies any involvement.

Incirlik airbase, used for the U.S.-led coalition bombing campaign against Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, was again opened for operations after being shut for a day after the coup attempt.

General Bekir Ercan Van, commander of the airbase in southern Turkey, was arrested with 10 of his soldiers.

The Anadolu news agency had reported earlier that 14 soldiers in Marmaris, where Erdogan was on holiday at the time of the putsch, had been arrested.

The group had allegedly been responsible for a planned attack on Erdogan’s hotel.

Erdogan said he will discuss with opposition parties in parliament about the possibility of capital punishment for those who carried out the failed coup.

Capital punishment has not been used in Turkey since 1984 and was abolished in 2004.

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