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"Cleansing" sweeps up thousands in post-coup Turkey

Turkey fights off coup
Turkey restoring order after failed takeover bid 01:31

ISTANBUL - A nationwide purge following a failed military coup in Turkey has led to the roundup, arrest and firing of thousands of people.

Turkey's justice minister says some 6,000 people have been detained in a government crackdown on alleged coup plotters and government opponents. There were also reported clashes between the few remaining coup plotters resisting arrest.

A Turkish official said late Sunday that law enforcement officials fired warning shots at Istanbul's Sabiha Gocen Airport after backers of the failed coup had resisted arrest. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government protocol, initially reported there were clashes in the area.

He later retracted that statement saying there was "no exchange" of fire and security forces had only fired "warning shots."

Meanwhile, Anadolu Agency reported that seven people, including a colonel were detained at an air base in the central Anatolian city of Konya. The same official said the situation in Konya was "under control" after coup backers there also resisted arrest.

"This is why we have been asking the people to stand guard and remain aware," he said.

Why Turkish president can emerge stronger after quashing coup 02:21

The botched coup, which saw warplanes fly over key government installations and tanks roll up in major cities briefly, ended hours later when loyal government forces including military and police- regained control of the military and civilians took to the streets in support of Erdogan.

At least 265 people were killed and over 1,400 were wounded. Government officials say at least 104 conspirators were killed. Already, three of the country's top generals have been detained, alongside hundreds of soldiers.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Sunday in a television interview about the government response that "the cleansing (operation) is continuing. Some 6,000 detentions have taken place. The number could surpass 6,000."

The government has dismissed nearly 3,000 judges and prosecutors from their posts, while investigators were preparing court cases to send the conspirators to trial on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the perpetrators of Friday's failed coup "will receive every punishment they deserve."

Justice Minister Bozdag also weighed in on the tension over a U.S.-based Islamic cleric. He said he was confident that the United States would return Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen to Turkey. The Turkish president has blamed Gulen and his followers for the failed military coup on Friday night, but Gulen, who was profiled by "60 Minutes" in 2012, has denied any involvement in or knowledge about the attempted coup. The U.S. has said it will look at any evidence Turkey has to offer against Gulen, and judge accordingly.

Attempted coup fails in Turkey 02:48

Bozdag said "the United States would weaken itself by protecting him, it would harm its reputation. I don't think that at this hour, the United States would protect someone who carried out this act against Turkey."

Turkey's state-run news agency says authorities have issued a warrant for the arrest of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's top military aide.

The Anadolu Agency says Sunday the warrant was issued against Col. Ali Yazici following Friday's failed coup attempt. It wasn't immediately clear what role, if any, Yazici played in the attempted coup that started late Friday.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says the coup plotters have been defeated, the coup has failed and life has returned to normal.

A Turkish government official says the commander of an air base used by U.S.-led coalition jets that conduct bombing runs against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has been detained.

The official said Sunday that Gen. Bekir Ercan Van, 10 other soldiers and one police officer from the Incirlik base are detained for their role in the botched Friday coup attempt.

The Turkish private DHA news agency showed footage of Van handcuffed and pushed into a van outside a courthouse. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Explosions and gunfire erupted throughout the night on Friday during the coup attempt. It quickly became clear, however, that the military was not united in the effort to overthrow the government. In a dramatic iPhone interview broadcast on TV early Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged his supporters into the streets to confront the troops and tanks, and forces loyal to the government began reasserting control.

Before the chaos, Turkey - a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - had been wracked by political turmoil that critics blamed on Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissidents, restricted the news media and renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels.

On Sunday, however, it appears Erdogan's popularity online increased. Chanting, dancing and waving flags, tens of thousands of Turks marched through the streets into the wee hours in half a dozen cities to defend democracy and support the country's long-time leader after a failed military coup shocked the nation.

It was an emotional display by Turks, who rallied in headscarves and long dresses, T-shirts and work boots, some walking hand-in-hand with their children. Rather than toppling Turkey's strongman president, the attempted coup appears to have bolstered Recep Tayyip Erdogan's popularity and grip on power.

"Just a small group from Turkish armed forces stood up against our government ... but we, the Turkish nation, stand together and repulse it back," Gozde Kurt, a 16-year-old student at the rally in Istanbul, said Sunday morning.

Flights resumed late Saturday into Istanbul's Anaturk Airport -- itself recovering from a recent devastating terrorist attack -- after being halted for nearly 24 hours and scores of government supporters gathered to make sure the airport was not a coup target again. The usually buzzing airport was eerily quiet.

In an unusual show of unity, Turkey's four main political parties released a joint declaration during an extraordinary parliamentary meeting Saturday, denouncing the coup attempt and claiming that any moves against the people or parliament will be met "with the iron will of the Turkish Grand National Assembly."

Officials claimed the judges and the coup plotters were loyal to moderate cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has often accused of attempting to overthrow the government. Gulen, a staunch democracy advocate who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, is a former Erdogan ally turned bitter foe who has been put on trial in absentia in Turkey.\

Fethullah Gulen CBS News

In a televised speech, Erdogan called on the United States to extradite Gulen.

At a news conference Saturday in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Gulen strongly denied any role in or knowledge of the coup.

"Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force," he said. "As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would entertain an extradition request for Gulen, but Turkey would have to present "legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny."

Turkey's NATO allies lined up to condemn the coup attempt. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged all sides to support Turkey's democratically elected government.

Turkey's military staged three coups between 1960 and 1980 and pressured Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, a mentor of Erdogan, out of power in 1997.

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