Attempted Coup Sets Off Fight for Control of Turkey

Battles in Istanbul, Ankara leave at least 90 people dead

By DION NISSENBAUM and EMRE PEKER in Istanbul, and AYLA ALBAYRAK in Washington, D.C.

Rebellious Turkish military factions tried to seize control of the government late Friday in a stunning attempt to oust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but the longtime leader’s forces said they were close to putting down the attempted coup.

The ensuing battle left at least 90 people dead across the country, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency, with many of those in Ankara, the capital and the heart of the military.

Rebel troops fired on civilians on the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul, killing three, as jets streaked over the city, according to the agency. Military leaders supporting the president ordered an F-16 jet fighter in the capital to shoot down a helicopter being used by the rebels.

The government said the situation was largely under control by Saturday morning. Anadolu reported that 1,374 military personnel were detained across Turkey as part of an investigation into the coup attempt. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, speaking on CNN Turk, said one rebel general was shot dead.

Mr. Erdogan flew back from a vacation resort to Atatürk International Airport in his stronghold of Istanbul, where thousands defied the rebel troops and swarmed their tanks to greet him.

Speaking to live television, the president vowed to deliver a decisive blow to coup leaders and urged civilians to resist the rebels. “Those who stain the military’s reputation must leave,” he said. “The process has started today and it will continue.”

Forces loyal to the president rescued the country’s top military commander, Gen. Hulusi Akar, who had been held captive by coup plotters, the president’s office said. Mr. Akar’s refusal to back the coup was likely a key reason why the military takeover quickly unraveled. The head of Turkey’s intelligence service, Hakan Fidan, was also said to be safe, despite efforts by coup forces to storm the intelligence headquarters in Ankara.

Continue reading here

ER recommends other articles by the Wall Street Journal