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Latest on Turkey: Large crowds greet president
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on what appears to be an attempted military coup in Turkey (all times local):
Private NTV television is showing footage of large crowds gathering at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport to greet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he emerged from a vehicle upon landing.
The state-run Anadolu Agency, citing unnamed military sources, says the leader of the attempted coup is Col. Muharrem Kose.
The agency says Kose, who headed the military’s legal advisory department, was dismissed from the position a short time ago.
The agency says other officers involved include Col. Mehmet Oguz Akkus, Maj. Erkan Agin and Lt. Col. Dogan Uysal.
Two large explosions have been heard near Taksim square in Istanbul, where police and military are exchanging fire.
The blasts were accompanied by the screech of fighter jets.
The area is surrounded by military but some soldiers have been taken into custody by police.
Turkish broadcaster CNN-Turk says a group of soldiers have entered the headquarters of the Dogan Media group, which owns the television channel.
The newscaster did not provide details on the number of soldiers who entered the building, which is also home to Kanal D television, the Dogan news agency and the Hurriyet newspaper.
The newscaster said she was not sure how much longer the station would be able to broadcast news.
Cyprus’ deputy government spokesman says the ethnically divided island’s conscript army is stepping up its readiness in light of the turmoil in neighboring Turkey.
Viktoras Papadopoulos told The Associated Press Saturday that the Greek Cypriot National Guard is “taking all appropriate measures” in the wake of the military uprising against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In a separate statement, Papadopoulos said top government officials had convened a meeting at National Guard headquarters on the orders of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades who’s on an official visit to Mongolia.
The statement said Cyprus’ Parliamentary Speaker and acting President Demetris Syllouris and Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides are monitoring developments in Turkey and are in contact with European and other governments.
Turkey maintains more than 35,000 troops in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of Cyprus since the island was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup aiming at union with Greece.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman says that “democratic order” must be respected in Turkey.
Steffen Seibert wrote on Twitter early Saturday that “everything must be done to protect human lives.”
He said: “Democratic order must be respected in Turkey.”
In a second message on Twitter, Seibert wrote that Merkel is in constant contact with top officials in her government. He added: “Support for elected government.”
A top Turkish official says the coup attempt within the country’s military appears to have been unsuccessful.
The senior official told The Associated Press all government officials are in charge of their offices, but cautioned that the chief of military staff hasn’t appeared in public yet.
The official requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Earlier, a spokesman for Turkey’s national intelligence agency, MIT, said that the attempt to seize control had been defeated.
Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told NTV television: “The military commanders have made it clear that the coup plotters violated the chain of command… The people have shown that they stand in solidarity with democracy and the elected government.”
Turkish media reports have cited MIT, the national intelligence agency, as saying the coup has been defeated.
The MIT website was not immediately accessible from Turkey.
MIT spokesman Nuh Yilmaz said that Gen. Hulusi Akar, the military chief of staff, was back in control.
Yilmaz said “Gen. Akar is back on top of his duties.” He added: “everything is returning to normal”
The movement of the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen has denied any involvement in the Turkish military coup attempt.
The Alliance for Shared Values says “we condemn any military intervention in (the) domestic politics of Turkey.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a broad campaign against Gulen’s movement in Turkey and abroad. The Erdogan regime has carried out a purge of civil servants suspected of ties to the movement, seized businesses and closed some media organizations. Gulen has been charged criminally with plotting to overthrow the government, and was placed on trial in absentia in Turkey earlier this year.
As the crisis unfolded in Turkey, there were reports that access to popular social media sites like Twitter and Facebook had been blocked within the country. Facebook declined comment, but Twitter said it suspected “intentional” interference with its service.
The company said in a statement that “we have no reason to think we’ve been fully blocked in #Turkey, but we suspect there is an intentional slowing of our traffic in country.”
A spokesperson would not elaborate.
Separately, YouTube said in a statement: “We are aware of reports that YouTube is down in Turkey, however, our systems seem to be functioning normally.”
Access to social media has been obstructed during previous periods of political upheaval in the country, according to some Internet watchdog groups, although Turkish authorities have denied involvement and suggested that technical problems were to blame.
The White House says President Barrack Obama has talked on the phone with Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the events in Turkey.
It says the two agreed that all parties in Turkey should support the democratically-elected government of Turkey, show restraint, and avoid any violence or bloodshed.
It added that Kerry underscored that the State Department will continue to focus on the safety and security of U.S. citizens in Turkey.
Kerry says the U.S. views with gravest concern events unfolding in Turkey and officials are monitoring “a very fluid situation.”
Kerry says he spoke this evening to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and emphasized the United States’ absolute support for Turkey’s democratically-elected, civilian government and democratic institutions.
He urged all parties to ensure the safety and well-being of diplomatic missions and personnel and civilians throughout Turkey.
The state-run Anadolu Agency says a bomb has hit the Turkish parliament in Ankara.
CNN-Turk television reported some police officers and parliament workers were hurt in the bomb attack.
A resident living not far from the area told the AP he heard a massive explosion that shook buildings and saw a column of smoke but could not confirm if it was coming from parliament itself.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, also said fighter jets were flying low in the area.
NATO’s chief has called for “full respect” for Turkey’s democratic institutions and constitution.
“I have just spoken to the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement issued early Saturday. “I am following events in Turkey closely and with concern.”
In an expression of support for President Tayyip Erdogan and his government, Stoltenberg said: “I call for calm and restraint, and full respect for Turkey’s democratic institutions and its constitution.”
He added: “Turkey is a valued NATO Ally.”
The military has taken position at the base of the Taksim monument at Taksim square in Istanbul, occasionally firing into the air to disperse a growing crowd of government supporters.
Military helicopters are flying overhead and many police are in position, separate from the military.
Meanwhile, a nearby mosque just made an anti-coup announcement.
The leaders of Greece’s armed forces and police are holding emergency meetings in Athens to monitor developments in neighboring Turkey, according to government officials.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity early Saturday because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media, described the country’s armed forces as being placed in a state of “heightened readiness” and not alert.
Despite markedly improved trade and relations between Greece and Turkey in recent years, the two countries have ongoing airspace and sea boundary disputes in the Aegean Sea. They also collaborate in implementing an agreement with the European Union — monitored by NATO — to limit the number of refugees and migrants traveling to Europe.
State-run ERT television reported that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had been briefed by intelligence and military leaders on the coup attempt in Turkey, including unusual movements by Turkish armed forces before the attempt became apparent.
-By Derek Gatopoulos in Athens.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency says that 17 police officers have been killed in a helicopter attack on police special forces headquarters on the outskirts of Ankara.
Loud explosions were heard earlier in Turkey’s capital after the military said it seized full control of the country.
But government officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tried to play down reports that the military was in control. Erdogan called for citizens to take to the streets in a show of support for the government, and said the coup attempt would be unsuccessful.
State-run Anadolu Agency says Turkish Air Force planes are flying above Ankara to strike at helicopters that are being used by those attempting the coup.
Private NTV television reported that F-16 jets have brought down a Sikorsky helicopter, but didn’t provide any details.
NTV also showed what it said were images from a police station in Istanbul, showing military officers allegedly detained by police.
Meanwhile, the commander of Turkey’s military special forces, Gen. Zekai Aksakalli, said “those who are attempting a coup will not succeed.”
He told NTV television by telephone: “Our people should know that we will overcome this… We are in control of the situation.”
He said some deaths and injuries were reported during the coup attempt, without providing any details.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief called for “restraint and respect for democratic institutions” in Turkey after the military said that it seized control of the country.
Federica Mogherini also tweeted while on a trip to Mongolia that she was “in constant contact” with EU offices in Istanbul and Ankara. Explosions have been heard in the capital, with gunfire also erupting in both cities.
Government officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tried to play down reports that the military was in control. Erdogan called for citizens to take to the streets in a show of support for the government, and said the coup attempt would be unsuccessful.
Turkish news agency Dogan has reported that soldiers have opened fired on people trying to cross Istanbul’s Bosporus bridge in protest of the attempted coup, and some have been wounded.
TV footage showed people running for cover as shots rang out. Earlier, a statement attributed to the military said that Turkish armed forces have “fully seized control” of the country.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan then called on citizens to take to the streets in a show of support for the government.
Turkey’s Istanbul-based first army commander says the soldiers involved in an attempted coup “represent a small group” and “there is no cause for concern,” according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
An earlier statement attributed to the military said that Turkish armed forces have “fully seized control” of the country.
But First Army Commander Umit Dundar told Anadolu that “we are working to solve the problem here. They represent a small group within the First Army Command. There is no cause for concern. We are taking the necessary precautions with (soldiers) who have not joined them and remain within the military chain of command.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on citizens to take to the streets in a show of support for the government.
Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala says very effective units from the chief of general staff’s office, the Turkish armed forces and the police are responding to the attempted coup in the country.
Ala says they are responding to “gangs who have taken cover in certain locations.”
He spoke by telephone to NTV television and also encouraged Turkish citizens to “fearlessly go out and support our security forces.”
He says: “We think it would be right for them to go out to the airports, to the streets, especially to the main arteries. As long as they do that this gang’s attempts… they will be defeated no matter what.”
He added “this is a gang that considers nothing sacred, not the people or the nation. They’re taking certain actions.”
NATO hasn’t responded immediately to a request for comment on how alliance operations or Turkey’s status might be affected after the military said it seized control of the country.
Independent observers noted that the 1949 treaty that created the U.S. alliance has no mechanism for suspending members, unlike the United Nations, the European Union or the Organization of American States.
Nothing in NATO’s founding 1949 Washington Treaty says anything about intervening in the internal or political affairs of an alliance member, and Turkey kept its NATO membership following past military coups.
The treaty’s key clause, Article 5, stipulates that NATO member states agree that “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all,” but that language has taken to apply to an external enemy.
Loud explosions have been heard in Turkey’s capital Ankara and CNN-Turk reports an explosion occurred at the state-run television building.
Turkey’s state-run news agency report military helicopters have also attacked the headquarters of TURKSAT satellite station on the outskirts of Ankara and the Ankara Police headquarters.
Dozens of tanks were seen moving toward a palace that is now used by the prime minister and deputy prime ministers. A civilian car tried to stop one of the tanks, but it rammed through the vehicle as those in the car escaped.
Turkey’s president has urged citizens to take to the streets in a show of support for the government after the military said it seized full control of the country.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking to CNN-Turk through FaceTime, called the actions by the military “an attempt at an uprising by a minority within our armed forces.”
The president’s office refused to disclose Erdogan’s whereabouts, saying he was at a secure location. Erdogan said “I don’t believe this coup attempt will be successful.”
Erdogan added: “There is absolutely no chain of command here. Right now the chain of command has been put on hold.”
The White House says President Barack Obama has been briefed on developments in key NATO ally Turkey where the military claims to have seized power in a coup.
The National Security Council said Obama had been apprised of Friday “unfolding situation” in Turkey and would continue to get regular updates.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he hopes for stability and continuity in Turkey following the reports.
Kerry, in Moscow for talks with Russian officials on Syria on Friday, told reporters he didn’t have details of the situation rapidly unfolding on the ground in Turkey and said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on developments. But, he expressed hope that the key ally and strategically important member of the coalition fighting the Islamic State would remain at peace.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other Russian officials have called on their countrymen in Turkey to stay indoors amid uncertainty about whether a military coup is taking place.
Lavrov made the statement early Saturday at a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. However, Lavrov, who had been in lengthy talks with Kerry, said he had little information about what was taking place in Turkey.
Russia’s tourism authority issued a similar warning. Turkey had long been a popular vacation destination for Russians, but the numbers dropped sharply last year when Russia banned package tours to Turkey amid tensions over Turkey shooting down a Russian warplane and it was unclear how many Russians currently are in the country.
A Turkish military statement read on state TRT television says the military has seized power, citing rising autocratic rule and increased terrorism.
But CNN-Turk has quoted Defense Minister Fikri Isik as describing it as a “pirate statement.”
Earlier, another statement published by the private Dogan news agency says that the military has “fully seized control” of the country.
A Turkish news agency has published a statement from the military saying the armed forces have “fully seized control” of the country.
The Dogan agency reported that the statement said that the military did this “to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated.”
The military statement went on to say that “all international agreements and commitments will remain. We pledge that good relations with all world countries will continue.”
Turkey’s prime minister says a group within Turkey’s military has engaged in what appeared to be an attempted coup.
Binali Yildirim told NTV television: “it is correct that there was an attempt.”
Yildirim didn’t provide details, but said Turkey would never allow any “initiative that would interrupt democracy.”
Earlier, military jets were heard flying over the capital, Ankara.
Media reports said ambulances were seen in front of the Turkey’s military headquarters.
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