Erdogan chairs security council as 50,000 hit by Turkey purge

Erdogan chairs security council as 50,000 hit by Turkey purge

Erdogan chairs security council as 50,000 hit by Turkey purge
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today chaired a crunch security meeting for the first time since the failed coup, after a widening purge that has seen around 50,000 people either detained or sacked.

The Turkish air force meanwhile launched its first strikes since Friday's putsch against targets of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, in a sign Erdogan has regained full control over the armed forces.

The coup bid by rebel soldiers was the most serious blow to Erdogan's 13-year domination of Turkey, and the president has said he came within 15 minutes of being killed or kidnapped by the plotters before escaping.

The putsch left more than 300 people dead and caused scenes of devastation, especially in Ankara where raids by fighter jets and attack helicopters on strategic targets terrified residents and turned parts of parliament and the police headquarters to rubble.

More than 9,000 suspects have been detained, including some of Turkey's most senior generals, who are accused of being the ringleaders of the plot.

In total, about 48,800 state employees, including police and teachers, have been dismissed from their posts or detained, according to figures published by the Hurriyet daily and CNN-Turk.

Ankara says the coup was masterminded by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen and the massive crackdown appears to be targeting individuals suspected of any connection to Erdogan's ally-turned-foe.

The purges have stoked alarm that Erdogan was using the coup plot to crack down on opponents, with Turkey's Western allies urging the authorities in the strategic NATO state to obey the rule of law.

The president returned to the capital late yesterday for the first time since the coup and was chairing a meeting at his presidential palace of his national security council, composed of top military brass and security ministers.

He will then chair a cabinet meeting, also at the palace, whose immediate vicinity was bombed during the military power grab.

Erdogan was in the Aegean resort of Marmaris when the coup struck and then flew to Istanbul where he had stayed since, appearing before supporters each night in a "vigil" for democracy.

He told supporters in Istanbul on Monday that "an important decision" would be announced after the security meeting, without specifying.

The crunch meetings come as controversy grows over the scope of the crackdown against those suspected of being behind the coup plot.

Erdogan's suggestion that the death penalty could be reinstated has sent shudders through Europe, with the EU warning such a move would be the nail in the coffin of Turkey's already embattled bid to join the bloc.