Uprising in Istanbul and Ankara

Coup arrests rise to 6,000 as Erdogan pinpoints cleric

Turkish uprisingUpdate 5pm Sun: The number of arrests following the attempted military coup in Turkey rose to 6,000 as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind the plot.

Mr Gulen has denied any involvement in the failed uprising on Friday night. The death toll has risen to 290 and British tourists have been told to stay indoors.

British Airways cancelled all flights to and from Turkey. It said the situation will be kept “under review”.

Georgia, which neighbours Turkey, has closed its border.

Residents responded to President Erdogan’s call to resist by laying down in the streets to block the tanks. A number of soldiers abandoned their vehicles.

Mr Erdogan has ruled Turkey since 2003 and has struggled to contain insurgents as the country suffered a series of bombings.

Speaking on a mobile phone on Friday from his holiday in Marmaris on the Turkish coast, he insisted: “We will overcome this,” calling on his followers to defend his government.

“I urge the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports. I never believed in a power higher than the power of the people,” he said. He later flew in to Istanbul and today attended the funeral of one of the victims.

Tanks on the streets
Tanks on the streets

The city and the capital Ankara witnessed gunfire and there was a bomb blast the parliament. Airports were closed and social media sites shut down. Troops sealed off the bridges over the Bosphorus in Istanbul as soldiers announced in a statement that a “peace council” was running the country.

A television news reader claimed she had been forced to read statement at gunpoint.

The UK Foreign Office issued a statement in the early hours of Saturday in which it “advised British citizens in Turkey to avoid public places and remain vigilant until the situation there becomes clearer.”

More than 2.5 million Britons travel to Turkey every year.

Soldiers surrender on a bridge over the Bosphorus
Soldiers surrender on a bridge over the Bosphorus

New Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, fresh from dealing with the horror in Nice, was faced with his second crisis within 48 hours of taking office. He said he was said to be “very concerned” about the situation in Turkey.

“We have been monitoring the situation and we are urging the avoidance of any further bloodshed. It is crucial we support the democratic institutions of Turkey.

“I have also spoken to our diplomatic staff in Ankara and Istanbul and  they are doing a fantastic job and working hard for the many Brits who are there.”

British nationals in Turkey can contact the Foreign Office on 020 7008 0000.

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