Turkey orders 176 soldiers detained over ties to cleric, reports Anadolu

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US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers Turkey blames for a failed coup, is shown in still image taken from video, speaks to journalists at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania July 16, 2016. — Reuters pic
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers Turkey blames for a failed coup, is shown in still image taken from video, speaks to journalists at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania July 16, 2016. — Reuters pic

ISTANBUL, Jan 14 — Turkish prosecutors today ordered 176 soldiers detained over suspected links to the network that Ankara says was behind a coup attempt three-and-a-half years ago, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Suspected followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen have been targeted in a sustained crackdown since a failed putsch in July 2016 in which some 250 people were killed. Operations against the network are still routine.

The latest police operation was coordinated from the western city of Izmir and targeted people in 49 provinces, Anadolu said. It said those facing arrest included 143 lieutenants, 97 of them serving, and 33 junior lieutenants, 11 of them serving.

Six F-16 warplane pilots were among those set to be detained, it added.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied any involvement in the attempted coup.

In the subsequent purge, around 80,000 people have been jailed pending trial and some 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others sacked or suspended from their jobs.

Turkey's Western allies and rights groups have criticised the scale of the crackdown, while Ankara has defended the measures as a necessary response to the security threat. — Reuters

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