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15,000 education staff suspended in Turkey post-coup purge

Dozens of media outlets have licences revoked, including several TV channels, over alleged role in coup attempt
Pro-Erdogan supporters hold Turkish flags during a protest at the Sarachane park in Istanbul (AFP)

Turkey widened its massive post-coup purge to the state education sector on Tuesday after vowing to root out supporters of an exiled cleric it accuses of orchestrating the attempted power grab.

In the latest action by authorities, Turkey's education ministry said more than 15,000 state education employees had been suspended.

The days since the failed coup last Friday have seen a massive crackdown on the military, police and judiciary. All medical personnel at state-run health facilities and civil servants have had their annual leave cancelled.

About 9,000 people including police and government officials have been sacked and 7,500 people detained including top generals accused of masterminding the plot.

The gendermerie's top commander, General Galip Menid, was removed from his post on Tuesday evening after suffering a heart attack.

A number of media outlets had their licences revoked on Tuesday, including several TV channels which had already been taken into administration by the government.

STV, Samanyolu Haber, Samanyolu Haber Radyo, Can Erzincan TV, Kanal 124, Yumurcak TV, Hira TV, MC TV, Dünya TV, Kanal Türk, Bugün TV, Mehtap TV, Berfin FM and Kanal Türk were among those who had their licenses revoked over allegations of involvement in the coup attempt.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told the country's parliament earlier on Tuesday that the country had sent four dossiers to the US to back up its demand for the extradition of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's sworn enemy who lives in exile in Pennsylvania.

"We will pull them (Gulen supporters) out by the roots like a razor blade," he said.

Nevertheless, Yildirim warned Turks against exacting revenge on backers of the attempted putsch, after disturbing pictures emerged of rough treatment meted out to suspects.

"Nobody can have a feeling of revenge. This is unacceptable in a state governed by rule of law," Yildirim said.

'Nonsensical' claims

Ankara says the reclusive Gulen, who wields enormous influence in Turkey through supporters in various apparatus as well as a private school network, hatched the plot to end Erdogan's 13 years in power.

Gulen, 75, has rejected the allegations, saying Erdogan himself may have staged the putsch, an idea dismissed by the presidency on Tuesday as "nonsensical". 

Turkey's Western allies have urged Ankara to abide by the rule of law amid fears about a worsening state of democracy and human rights.

Erdogan's suggestion that the death penalty could be reinstated has also sent shudders through Europe, with the EU warning such a move would be the nail in the coffin of Turkey's already embattled bid to join the bloc.

An Ankara court on Monday charged and put in pre-trial detention 26 former generals over the putsch, including former air force chief General Akin Ozturk, painted by some Turkish media as the mastermind.

But Ozturk has denied he was the coup ringleader.

"I am not the person who planned or led the coup. Who planned it and directed it, I do not know," state-run news agency Anadolu quoted him as saying.

Anadolu published images of a haggard-looking Ozturk, one ear heavily bandaged, and other suspects at the courthouse, their hands tied behind their backs.

A total of 208 people were killed, including 145 civilians, 60 police and three soldiers, along with 104 coup plotters, the government and army says.

The military has often had strained relations with the AKP-led government as the traditional guardians of Turkey's secular system and has carried out coups in the past. 

But it said the vast majority of its forces had nothing to do with Friday's plot and that "traitors" will be punished severely for the "humiliation and disgrace" of the Turkish republic.

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