Erdogan urges Turks to control streets as coup declared over
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday called on Turks to remain on the streets, after mass civilian protests overnight helped foil a military faction's coup attempt to bring him down.
Erdogan, who survived a night of chaos and fierce fighting that left scores dead in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities, warned coup opponents that fresh fighting could happen at any time.
"We should keep on owning the streets tonight no matter at what stage," Erdogan said in a Twitter message.
His prime minister, Binali Yildirim, on Saturday denounced the coup attempt as a "black stain" on democracy, but said "we have averted serious trouble".
"The situation is completely under control," said Yildirim in Ankara, flanked by the ministers of justice and interior as well as Turkey's top general outside his offices in the capital.
The messages came as thousands of civilians remained on the streets of Ankara and Istanbul where the debris of fighting, not seen in the country for decades, still littered key locations.
LIVE BLOG: Military coup attempt in Turkey
The people were brought onto the streets in the early hours of Saturday after Erdogan rallied support on Turkish television in an interview conducted via the social media app FaceTime, so precarious his situation and control of the media. The presenter held an iPhone to the camera to allow Erdogan to speak.
At that point coup leaders had taken over the state media company TRT and released a statement saying they were in full control of government. Key bridges across the Bosphorous in Istanbul were in their control, parliament in Ankara was being surrounded, soldiers lined the streets in tanks and helicopters hovered above key installations.
But within moments of Erdogan's address, the mood appeared to turn as thousands descended on the strongpoints around Ankara and Istanbul, storming tanks and armoured vehicles and arresting soldiers.
The protests did not come without cost, however, as soldiers fired on the crowds on bridges across the Bosphorous and other areas. The full scale of the death toll is at this point unknown, although the government said at least 161 people had been confirmed killed and 1,440 injured in clashes.
At least 104 rebels soldiers have been reported as killed, and 2,839 arrested.
By the early morning, television pictures showed dozens of the soldiers surrendering on a Bosphorus bridge in Istanbul, walking from behind their tank holding their hands above their heads.
Pictures showed protesters jubilantly jumping onto one of the tanks left behind by the departing soldiers, cheering, making victory signs and waving the Turkish flag.
Similar scenes were seen in Ankara.
Mosques in Istanbul also used their loudspeakers to urge people to go out into the street to protest the coup.
Erdogan on Saturday blasted the coup attempt as "treason," putting the blame on supporters of his arch-foe, US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.
"What is being perpetrated is treason and a rebellion. They will pay a heavy price for this act of treason," Erdogan said at Istanbul's Ataturk airport.
“They are trying to topple a government brought to power by the people's votes. We are willing to sacrifice our lives on this path we have chosen,” he said.
Timeline: Turkey's history of coups
Yildirim later echoed his president's words. "Fethullah Gulen is the leader of a terrorist organisation," he said. "Whichever country is behind him is not a friend of Turkey and in a serious war against Turkey."
Countries lined up to condemn the atempted putsch.
The US and the UK called on Turks to respect the democrtatically elected government, while Qatar congratulated Erdogan on his apparent overnight success.
In a telephone call with the Turkish leader, Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani "congratulated [Erdogan] on the support of the people of Turkey on his rule against the failed military coup," the official QNA news agency reported.
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