Turkey's government defeated a coup attempt by a renegade faction of the military, restoring control on Saturday to the major cities after a night of chaos and clashes that killed nearly 200 and has plunged the already troubled country into uncertainty.
More than 100 coup plotters are now dead, acting military chief Gen. Umit Dundar said on live TV, while another 90 people - including 47 civilians - were killed as ordinary Turks poured into the streets to confront tanks amid pitched battles in the main cities. At least 1,154 were wounded, officials said.
By morning, government forces had closed in on the army headquarters in Ankara, the final stronghold of coup plotters, said a senior Turkish official who added that 1,563 members of the military have been arrested so far.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to accuse the coup plotters of trying to kill him, and promised to purge the armed forces which in the past have staged a number of successful coups. "They will pay a heavy price for this,” he said. "This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.”
Turkish authorities have already detained around 1,500 members of the armed forces, officials said. Chief of staff Hulusi Akar, who had been reported held hostage by the rebels, has been rescued, a senior official said.
A successful overthrow of Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey since 2003, would have marked one of the biggest shifts in the Middle East in years, transforming a major US ally while war rages on its border.
However, a failed coup attempt could still destabilise a NATO member that lies between the European Union and the chaos of Syria, with Islamic State bombers targeting Turkish cities and the government also at war with Kurdish separatists.
Erdogan, who had been holidaying on the southwest coast when the coup was launched, flew into Istanbul before dawn on Saturday and was shown on TV outside Ataturk Airport.
Addressing a crowd of thousands of flag-waving supporters at the airport later, Erdogan said the government remained at the helm, although disturbances continued in Ankara.
Erdogan said the plotters had tried to attack him in the resort town of Marmaris. "They bombed places I had departed right after I was gone,” he said. "They probably thought we were still there.”
‘No more coups for Turkey’
Turkey’s acting chief of staff Umit Dundar on Saturday said the country has "closed the chapter of coups for good, never to be opened again”.
Giving details to media representatives on how the bid to overthrow a democratically-elected government was thwarted, Dundar said: "Swift measures by our police and prosecutors and standing by democracy and rule of law prevented the coup attempt.”
Turkey’s senior military command was against the idea of overthrowing an elected government from the "very start”, Dundar said.
He added that the coup was attempted "largely by troops from air force, gendarmerie and some armoured elements”.
Close to 200 unarmed soldiers at the Turkish military headquarters surrendered to state authorities, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.