Thwarted coup: Erdogan assassination squad captured


Turkish security forces have so far caught a total of 36 soldiers who were allegedly part of a squad to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the night of the July 15 coup attempt.

Erdogan had departed for Istanbul after being alerted about the coup attempt and narrowly escaped an armed attack on the evening of the failed coup.

Three helicopters flew above the hotel in the Marmaris district of southwestern Mugla province where Erdogan was on a one-week holiday. A group of masked soldiers, who carried heavy weapons, later stepped out of the helicopter and targeted the president.

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Two police officers, Nedip Cengiz Eker and Mehmet Cetin, were martyred as they fought against the pro-coup soldiers outside the hotel.

With hundreds of police and gendarme forces, an air-backed operation was launched to capture the assassination squad who escaped towards the woods in the region.

During 17 days, every inch of an around 50 kilometer area covering Icmeler, Akkaya, Akcapinar and Sirinkoy neighbourhoods of Mugla was searched as well as some rural areas of nearby provinces.

On July 16, Rear Admiral Namik Alper, Lt. Col. Yucel Ekizoglu, 1st Lt. Pilot Ozden Haydar Murat, and Colonel Cenk Bahadir Avci were arrested in Mugla.

Pilots Murat Dagli and Albay Zeki Gocmen, Lt. Col. Davut Ucum, Lieutenant Ali Akturk, Sgt. Murat Gosterit, Sgt. Ahmet Kocan, Sgt. Aydin Ozsicak, and Lieutenant Mehmet Cantaz were arrested in Izmir province.

On July 17, Sgt. Yakup Ozcan and Sgt. Ekrem Benli were arrested in the woods of Mugla and sent to prison.

On July 18, Maj. Gen. Gokhan Sahin Sonmezates, in charge of the Cigli 2th Main Jet Base, was arrested in Mugla and then jailed in the Aegean Izmir province.

On July 19, 1st Lt. Hasan Arslanbay and Sgt. Serkan Elci were surrendered at a police headquarters in Izmir and arrested in Mugla.

On July 21, 1st Lt. Ali Saribey was arrested by police officers during a vehicle search in Ula district of Mugla.

On July 25, Maj. Taner Berber, Command Sergeant Majors Zekeriya Kuzu, Omer Faruk Gocmen and Abdulhamit Gulerden, Sgts. Ilyas Yasar, Gokhan Guclu and Technical Sergeant Erkan Cikat were also arrested in Ula.

Five of them, including Major Kuzu, were remanded while investigation is underway for Majors Gocmen and Berber.

On August 1 (late Sunday night), 11 fugitive soldiers were arrested in Akyaka, Akcapinar, and Sirinkoy neighborhoods of Ula district in Mugla.

Among them were Major Sukru Seymen, Enes Yilmaz, Ergun Sahin, Ismail Yigit, Mehmet Demir, Muhammet Burak Ipek, Murat Kose, Bahadir Sagun, Mehmet Ozturk, Mustafa Serdar Ozay, and Muammer Gozubuyuk.

At least 23 soldiers, out of 36 arrested, have been remanded in custody, while one soldier, Burkay Karatepe, still remains at large.

Turkey’s government has said the deadly coup attempt was organized by followers of U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen and his Fetullah Terrorist Organisation, or FETO.

The country has repeatedly asked the U.S. to extradite Gulen to stand trial.

Source: Anadolu

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