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Erdogan says only minority of military behind coup as purge gathers pace

Turkish president calls plotters a 'terrorist organisation' as thousands more state workers are arrested and suspended
Erdogan, overlooked by a portrait of Kemal Ataturk, addresses the National Security Council (AFP)

In the latest moves to purge the state following a failed coup, Turkey's government moved to shut down hundreds of schools, formally charge 99 generals and admirals, and launch an investigation into every military prosecutor and judge.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday it was clear only a minority of the military was behind the coup, in comments that came after it emerged nearly 60,000 people - including figures in the military, education sector and judiciary - have been rounded up since Friday.

Speaking in Turkish on the Al Jazeera English channel, Erdogan said: "It is clear it was a minority [of the armed forces]. The terrorist organisation was trying to make the minority dominate the majority," Erdogan told the Al Jazeera channel in an interview translated into English.

He said Turkey had not "come to the end of it," and added that authorities were working within the law as they targeted alleged plotters.

Erdogan spoke after an extraordinary session of the country's National Security Council in Ankara, lasting more than four hours, and a cabinet meeting.

He was expected to make a major announcement this evening, with speculation that a national state of emergency would be called.

Turkey's justice ministry on Wednesday released a list of 99 generals and admirals charged in connection with the coup, representing about a third of the military's top brass.

The defence ministry also said it had launched investigations into every single military judge and prosecutor in Turkey. 

A total of 262 military judges and prosecutors have already been removed as part the investigation, it said.

The country's higher education board meanwhile banned all academics from foreign travel. It announced 6,538 state workers had been suspended on Wednesday, bringing total suspensions to more than 20,000.

The education ministry launched action to shut 524 schools, for "engaging in acts that threaten the constitutional order".

More than 20,000 private teachers have also had their licences revoked.

Turkish media also reported that Levent Turrkan, a lieutenant colonel and aide to General Hulusi Akar, had confessed to involvement in the coup.

According to a written statement presented to media, Turrkan also admitted being a member of the movement led by Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric living in self-imposed exile in the US whom the government has claimed was behind the plot.

Two constitutional court judges, Alparslan Altan and Erdal Tercan, were placed under formal arrest.

Also placed under formal arrest was Colonel Ali Yazici, chief military aide to Erdogan.

The sports ministry has dismissed 245 employees, state media said.

Amnesty International said on Wednesday that authorities had blocked access to more than 20 news websites, cancelled press cards for 34 journalists, and issued an arrest warrant for one for her coverage of the coup. 

Meanwhile, since the coup attempt, 100 million Turkish flags have been sold, leading to a shortage of cloth.