Turkey arresting 215 more police officers in post-coup investigation: NTV

October 12, 2016 5:09 AM EDT

A flag with the picture of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan is seen during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally, organized by him and supported by ruling AK Party (AKP), oppositions Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), to prot


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ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish authorities on Wednesday issued arrest warrants for 215 police officers, including 147 police chiefs, broadcaster NTV reported, in an operation linked to July's attempted coup.

Thirty from the group have been arrested so far, NTV said.

Turkey has seen two mass arrests in the police force since Oct. 7, that the government says aims to root out supporters of U.S-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara blames for masterminding the abortive coup.

Gulen denies accusations he was behind the coup, during which more than 240 people were killed.

Some 32,000 people have been jailed, and 100,000 military officers, police, teachers, judges, prosecutors and others have been sacked.

On Wednesday, the Defence Ministry said the armed forces had dismissed 201 more personnel from its air force and 32 more from the navy.

Authorities said that all 215 officers listed were suspected of using ByLock, NTV said, a smartphone messaging app used by Gulen's followers since 2014. Most of the warrants were for officers in Ankara, though others were in 13 provinces, it said.

The state intelligence agency traced thousands of people they say are part of Gulen's movement and linked to last month's failed military coup by cracking ByLock's security features.

Parliament on Tuesday voted to prolong a state of emergency for three months in a vote that was more of a formality, as the ruling AK Party commands a large majority and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party had pledged its support of the move.

The main opposition People's Republican Party and third-biggest Peoples' Democratic Party opposed the extension, citing worries that innocent people were being targeted.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Turkey's entire population had been harmed by supporters of Gulen, which the government refers to as the G├╝lenist Terror Organisation (FETO).

"There are no victims in FETO - only the 79 million people FETO victimized," he said on Wednesday.

(Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Ayla Jean Yackley and Louise Ireland)



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