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Saturday, July 16, 2016, 17:34

Turkish coup quashed, 194 reported killed in clashes

By Agencies

Turkish coup quashed, 194 reported killed in clashes
Supporters of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan protest in front of soldiers in Istanbul's Taksim square, early July 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's president declared he is in control of the country early Saturday as loyal military and police forces quashed a coup attempt during a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left dozens dead.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who flew home early Saturday, said coup supporters "will pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey."

The chaos capped a period of political turmoil in Turkey which critics blamed on Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule, which has included a government shake-up, a crackdown on dissidents and opposition media and renewed conflict in the mainly Kurdish areas of the southeast.

Gen. Umit Dundar, the newly appointed acting chief of the general staff, said more than 190 people died in clashes: 41 police officers, two soldiers, 47 civilians and 104 people described as "coup plotters."

Dundar 1,563 soldiers have been detained detained, adding officers from the Air Force, the military police and the armored units were mainly involved in the attempt.

"We're determined to cleanse the army of a parallel structure," the chief said in a televised speech soon after he was promoted from the rank of 1st Army Commander to replace Gen. Hulusi Akar, who was taken hostage in the coup attempt that swept the country on Friday night but was later rescued.

Turkish coup quashed, 194 reported killed in clashes

China called on Turkey to restore order and stability as soon as possible after a coup attempt, state television cited China's foreign ministry as saying on Saturday.

The ministry has so far not received any reports of Chinese citizens being injured there, state TV said, and has activated emergency mechanisms.

In view of the current situation in Turkey, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government on Saturday raised the Outbound Travel Alert (OTA) for Turkey to Red.

Erdogan flew into Ataturk airport early Saturday and was greeted by large crowds. He told them: "They have pointed the people's guns against the people. The president, whom 52 percent of the people brought to power, is in charge. This government brought to power by the people is in charge. They won't succeed as long as we stand against them by risking everything."

Fighting continued into the early morning, with the sounds of huge blasts echoing across Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, including at least one bomb that hit the parliament complex. Television footage showed images of broken glass and other debris strewn across a lobby leading to the assembly hall.

CNN-Turk said two bombs hit near the presidential palace, killing five people and wounding a number of others.

Government officials, who blamed the unrest on a US-based Islamist cleric, said the coup failed as Turks took to the streets overnight to confront troops attempting to take over the country.

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