Turkey suspends 13,000 police officers

  • 05/10/2016
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (Getty)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (Getty)

Turkish authorities have suspended nearly 13,000 police officers, detained dozens of air force officers and shut down a TV station, widening a state-ordered clampdown against perceived enemies in the wake of July's failed coup.

The police headquarters said on Tuesday that 12,801 officers, including 2,523 chiefs, were suspended because of their suspected links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the attempt to overthrow the government.

Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, denies any link to the coup attempt, which led to the deaths of more than 240 people.

The suspensions were ordered hours after Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus announced that the cabinet had approved a 90-day extension to a state of emergency, renewing President Tayyip Erdogan's powers to govern by decree at least until January.

The emergency extension, which parliamentary is likely to wave through, means Erdogan can take decisions without oversight of the Constitutional Court, Turkey's highest legal body.

As well as suspending five per cent of the entire police force, the authorities detained 33 air force officers in raids across the country, the private Dogan news agency reported, and the transmission of TV station IMC was cut following accusations of spreading "terrorist propaganda".

State-run Anadolu Agency said 37 people working in the Interior Ministry's headquarters had also been removed from their posts, although no explanation was given.

Since the July 15 insurrection, Erdogan has taken steps to rid state institutions of staff deemed disloyal or potential enemies. About 100,000 people in the military, civil service, police, judiciary and universities have been sacked or suspended from their jobs, and 32,000 arrested.

The government says its aim is to rid institutions of links to Gulen, whose organisation it calls a terrorist network.

One of the police officers suspended on Tuesday, a 26-year-old man, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in a park in the Mediterranean city of Mersin, Dogan reported.

The relentless crackdown has caused consternation among Turkey's Western allies and human rights groups, who fear Erdogan is using the unsuccessful coup as a pretext to curtail any dissent, while at the same time intensifying his moves against suspected Kurdish militants and sympathisers.

On Tuesday evening, the armed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) attacked a Turkish military outpost in the predominantly Kurdish southeast, in Diyarbikar province, killing two soldiers and wounding three others, the local governor said.