Middle East

Turkey orders 271 soldiers detained in Gulen probe: state media

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey ordered the detention of 271 soldiers in an operation targeting alleged supporters of the U.S.-based Islamic cleric who Ankara says orchestrated an attempted coup two years ago, state media said on Friday.

The operation was launched in dozens of provinces across Turkey against soldiers who had been in contact with operatives of the preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for being behind the failed July 2016 putsch, broadcaster TRT Haber said.

Star newspaper said most of those facing detention were serving soldiers, including 10 colonels, while a retired general was also among the suspects. The operation was launched at around 5 am by Istanbul counter-terrorism police, it said.

Such operations have been very frequent since the coup attempt, with some 160,000 people detained and nearly the same number of civil servants dismissed since the putsch, the U.N. human rights office said in March.

Of those detained, some 77,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail during their trials, the interior minister said in April.

Critics of President Tayyip Erdogan accuse him of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkey says the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.

(Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Dominic Evans)



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