Turkish prosecutors have ordered the arrest of nearly 200 serving military personnel and several civilians over suspected links to a network blamed by Ankara for an attempted coup three years ago.
Turkey‘s state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Tuesday that the Istanbul prosecutor’s office had issued 176 warrants for serving members of the armed forces, in an operation encompassing the army, air force and navy.
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Among those facing arrest were a colonel, two lieutenant colonels, five majors, seven captains and 100 lieutenants, it added.
The prosecutor’s office in Izmir also said it had ordered the arrest of 20 military personnel currently on active duty, five former ones and 10 civilians.
In the northwestern province of Kocaeli, the prosecutor sought the arrest of 17 suspects including nine current and former soldiers across seven cities, Anadolu reported.
The Ankara public prosecutor later on Tuesday said it issued 32 arrest warrants for military personnel in the air force including a colonel and nine lieutenants.
Anadolu said simultaneous operations were ongoing in various provinces of the country to take the suspects into custody.
Ankara has accused US-based Muslim religious leader Fethullah Gulen of masterminding the attempted putsch in July 2016 that killed about 300 people. He has denied any involvement.
Almost three years after the failed coup, tens of thousands of people have been jailed pending trial, while civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.
Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticised the scope of the crackdown, saying President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent.
The government has said the security measures are necessary due to the gravity of the threat faced by Turkey and has vowed to eradicate Gulen’s network in state institutions and civil life.
There have been hundreds of detentions in recent months despite the criticism.