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Protesters take to streets against Turkish military coup attempt

Turkish President Erdogan via video call asks people to defy military curfew, occupy streets, airports
Turkish protesters in Ankara demonstrate against the military coup (AA)

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Protesters in the tens of thousands have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the military coup that is underway in Turkey.

TV images on local broadcast networks show growing crowds on the streets of Ankara and Istanbul, depite a curfew imposed by the military.

Mosques in Istanbul have used their loudspeakers to urge people to go out into the street to protest against the coup.

Images of large protests in Gaziantep, a town on the border with Syria, have circulated online.

A senior government source told Middle East Eye early Saturday morning that “the coup has failed".

"We are in control of Istanbul and have liberated all the places occupied by the coup plotter and we are in control of the vast majority of Ankara apart from small isolated areas. It will be over by the morning," the source added.

Returning from the Aegean coast resort of Marmaris, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived at Ataturk aiport amid swarms of supporters. They flooded the airport as he landed.

CNN Turk has reported that coup plotters were repelled from Military General Command and that major explosions were heard in the capital, Ankara.

State-run Anadolu has reported that Colonel Muharrem Kose, who was recently sacked, is the mastermind behind the coup attempt.

LIVE BLOG: Military coup attempt in Turkey

Cemalettin Hasimi, special adviser to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, told MEE that President Erdogan is in Istanbul and the government has taken control.

“Only a small group of plotters remain and we hope to get everything under control within 24 hours,” he said.

Hasimi also said strong statements of support from various opposition political parties were a positive step. “This support is definitely a positive thing. It was also a strong sign of backing for democracy.”

Earlier, the Turkish military had announced it had assumed power over the nation in what the prime minister termed an illegal act.

"The power in the country has been seized in its entirety," said a military statement read on local television. 

“I can confirm that certain elements are attempting an uprising. I call on people to stay calm ... We will meet force with force,” he said.

Erdogan called on people to defy the curfew and take to streets. Via a video call on CNN Turk he said: "I hope the coup instigators get the punishment they deserve. They will pay a heavy price. I call on my nation to take to the streets and airports."

Later, Turkey's state-run news agency, Anadolu, reported that a bomb hit parliament in Ankara.

Erdogan had been on holiday in the resort area of Marmaris. Soldiers are blocking entry to Istanbul's Ataturk airport, with departing flights cancelled, CNN Turk reported. Television images also showed tanks gathering at the airport.

The US State Department has confirmed that shots and explosives have taken place in Ankara.

Also, 17 police officers have been killed in an attack on special forces offices in Ankara's Golbasi neighbourhood, according to state-run news agengy Anadolu.

Local television station OdaTv reported earlier that soldiers had entered the state broadcaster TRT’s headquarters in Ankara, and live TV footage showed shots being fired from a military helicopter on citizens trying to storm the TRT building.

There were also reports of military jets flying low overhead in the capital Ankara.

An AP report has also said that the TURKSAT satellite station in Ankara was attacked by military helicopters.

A CNN Turk report said that fighter jets and military helicopters targeted the Turkish police headquarters in Ankara for a second time.

Turkish Chief of Military Staff General Hulusi Akar was taken hostage, according to the state-run Anadolu agency, but an NTV television report has said he has been rescued.

US President Barack Obama expressed support for the "democratically elected government" Turkish government, according to an AFP report.

Meanwhile, the Istanbul chief prosecutor initiated proceedings against soldiers accused of initiating the coup. Arrest warrants have been issued for soldiers participating in the attempt.

Defence Minister Fikri Isik said that "the military coup statement is not genuine nor valid".

EU Minister Omer Celik said: “It is our duty and debt to defend the national will.”

MEE staff contributed to this report.