• Erdogan back in Ankara as thousands hit by Turkey purge

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    ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was Wednesday to chair a crunch security meeting in Ankara for the first time since the failed coup, with tens of thousands either detained or sacked from their jobs in a widening purge.

    The Turkish air force meanwhile launched their first strikes against targets of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq since the putsch aimed at unseating Erdogan, in a sign he has regained full control over the armed forces.

    The coup represented the most serious threat to Erdogan’s 13 year domination of Turkey, and the president has said he came within 15 minutes of being killed or kidnapped by the plotters before escaping.

    The putsch left over 300 dead and caused scenes of devastation, especially in Ankara where raids by F-16s and attack helicopters on strategic targets terrified residents and turned parts of parliament and the police headquarters to rubble.

    More than 9,000 suspects have been detained, including some of Turkey’s most senior generals, and thousands of officials, police and teachers dismissed from their posts.

    Erdogan, who was in the Aegean resort of Marmaris when the coup struck late Friday, flew to Istanbul where he had stayed since, appearing before supporters each night in a “vigil” for democracy.

    But the president returned to the capital late Tuesday for the first time since the coup, a Turkish official told Agence France-Presse.

    He also held his first international bilateral meeting, hosting Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili at his presidential palace in Ankara.

    The president will later Wednesday around 0900 GMT chair a meeting of his national security council at the presidential palace, his office said. The council is composed of top military figures and security ministers.

    Erdogan will then at 1200 GMT chair a meeting of the cabinet, also at the palace, whose immediate vicinity was bombed during the botched coup bid.

    Erdogan told supporters in Istanbul on Monday that “an important decision” would be announced after the National Security Council meeting, without specifying.

    Widening purge
    The crunch meetings come as controversy grows over the scope of the legal crackdown against those behind the coup plot, with global leaders urging Turkey to obey the rule of law.

    Erdogan’s suggestion that the death penalty could be reinstated has also sent shudders through Europe, with the EU warning such a move would be the nail in the coffin of Turkey’s already embattled bid to join the bloc.

    Ankara says the coup was masterminded by the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen and the legal crackdown appears to be targeting individuals suspected of any connection to him.

    AFP

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