Warplanes have been seen patrolling Turkey’s skies following a failed coup, a sign that authorities fear the threat against the government is not over.
An anonymous senior official said F-16 jets guarded the Turkish airspace overnight, after a faction within the military launched an attempted coup late Friday against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The coup plotters sent warplanes firing on key government installations and tanks rolling into major cities, but the rebellion was quashed by loyal government forces and masses of civilians who took to the streets.
Officials say at least 294 people were killed and more than 1,400 wounded during the attacks.
A total of 2,839 plotters were said to have been detained, and President Erdogan vowed those responsible “will pay a heavy price for their treason.”
The chaos capped a period of political turmoil in Turkey — a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group — that critics blame on Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissidents, restricted the news media and renewed conflict with the Kurdish minority.
Pressure has also come from millions of refugees who have fled violence in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, and a series of bloody attacks blamed on the Islamic State group and Kurdish rebels.
Erdogan was on a seaside vacation when tanks rolled into the streets of Ankara and Istanbul. He flew home early Saturday and declared the coup to have failed.
The uprising appears not to have been backed by the most senior ranks of the military, and Turkey’s main opposition parties quickly condemned the attempted overthrow of the government. Gen. Umit Dundar, newly appointed as acting chief of the general staff, said the plotters were mainly officers from the Air Force, the military police and the armoured units.
Anadolu, the state-run news agency, said President Erdogan ordered the overnight patrol by F-16s.