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After facing down the bloodiest challenge to his 13-year rule, Erdogan triumphantly addressed flag-waving supporters in Istanbul following Friday’s chaos in the strategic North Atlantic Treaty Organization member of 80 million people.
The authorities blamed Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric who is Erdogan’s arch enemy, for the plot and lost no time in rounding up 2,839 soldiers over alleged involvement, amid global alarm over the extent of the retribution.
Turks woke up early Saturday to television pictures showing dozens of soldiers surrendering after the failed coup, some with their hands above their head, others forced to the ground in the streets.
“The situation is completely under control,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said outside his Ankara offices, flanked by Turkey’s top general who had himself been taken hostage by the plotters.
Describing the attempted coup as a “black stain” on Turkey’s democracy, Yildirim said 161 people had been killed in the night of violence and 1,440 wounded.
Gen. Umit Dundar, who stood in as acting chief of staff while Hulusi Akar was being held by the rebels, said 104 coup plotters has been killed. Akar was later rescued in an operation that marked the end of the plotters’ hopes.
During a night where power hung in the balance, supporters of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party defied the coup leaders’ orders of a curfew and flooded the streets to block the attempt to overthrow the regime. (AFP)