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Thursday, July 28, 2016, 10:59

Turkey dismisses military, shuts media outlets

By Reuters

Turkey dismisses military, shuts media outlets
People wave Turkish flags as they take part in an anti coup rally at Taksim square in Istanbul, July 26, 2016. (AP Photo / Petros Karadj ias)
ANKARA/ISTANBUL - Turkey on Wednesday deepened a crackdown on suspected followers of a US-based cleric it blames for a failed coup, dismissing nearly 1,700 military personnel and shutting 131 media outlets, moves that may spark more concern among its Western allies.

So far, tens of thousands of people - including police, judges and teachers - have been suspended or placed under investigation since the July 15-16 coup, which Turkey says was staged by a faction within the military loyal to the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania but whose movement has a wide following in Turkey where it runs a large network of schools, has denied any involvement in the failed putsch.

Western governments and human rights groups, while condemning the abortive coup in which at least 246 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured, have expressed concern over the extent of the crackdown, suggesting President Tayyip Erdogan may be using it to stifle dissent and tighten his grip on power.

Erdogan, who narrowly escaped capture and possibly death on the night of the coup, denies the crackdown has wider aims and says the Gulen movement threatened democracy by attempting to build a "parallel state" within the military, media and civil service.

On Wednesday, the military dishonourably discharged 1,684 of its personnel, a Turkish government official said, citing their role in the failed coup. Of those, 149 were generals and admirals, said the official, who requested anonymity. Data show that would represent roughly 40 percent of all generals and admirals in Turkey's military.

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