France hopes Turkish democracy will survive coup test - foreign minister


France hopes Turkish democracy will survive coup test - foreign minister

But the chief of staff, Gen Hulusi Akar, was not part of the coup, nor was the head of the army in Istanbul, who took command while Gen Akar was being held by the plotters.

Iran halted package tours to neighboring Turkey, the country's top tourist destination, on Saturday in the face of persistent uncertainty after an abortive coup attempt, state media reported.

Soldiers blocked entry to Istanbul's main Ataturk Airport, where four tanks were stationed, according to the private Dogan news agency.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan sent a mass text message to Turkish mobile phones on Saturday imploring Turks to "stand up" for democracy and peace.

Many people heeded Mr Erdogan's call and took to the streets to confront the coup-plotters.

At least 60 people were killed in violence that erupted on Friday after a faction of the armed forces attempted to seize power, officials said.

"A minority within the armed forces has unfortunately been unable to stomach Turkey's unity", Erdogan said, adding that individuals loyal to Gulen had "penetrated the armed forces and the police, among other government agencies, over the past 40 years".

No named military officer claimed responsibility for the actions although Prime Minister Binali Yildirim claimed a key pro-coup general had been killed. At least one bomb hit the parliament complex in the capital.

Earlier, military jets were heard flying over the capital, Ankara.

Erdogan, who had been holidaying on the southwest coast when the coup was launched, flew into Istanbul before dawn on Saturday and was shown on TV outside Ataturk Airport.

Another broadcaster, CNN Turk, also went off air when soldiers walked into a studio control room and social media outlets were disrupted.

A still image from video shows people in a crowd changting slogans as a bus carrying detained soldiers pulling out of TRT state television after a failed coup attempt, in Istanbul, Turkey July 16, 2016.

The coup raised a host of critical questions at a time when Turkey is engaged in turmoil at home and with neighboring countries.

Turkish security officers detain police officers on the side of the road on July 15, 2016 in Istanbul, during a security shutdown of the Bosphorus Bridge. Discarded gear was strewn on the ground. A coup against the democratically elected government could make it hard for the United States to continue to cooperate with Turkey.

Erdogan immediately pinned the blame on "the parallel state" and "Pennsylvania" - a reference to Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, his arch-enemy whom he has always accused of seeking to overthrow him.

Earlier, Nuh Yilmaz, a spokesman for Turkish National Intelligence told CNN Turk the coup attempt had been quashed.

Police were forced to intervene and some shot into the air to protect the surrendering soldiers from crowds of angry men who rained down punches, kicks, and blows from sticks as alleged coup plotters were herded on to police buses. The military have also reportedly set up a blockade at a central hospital in Istanbul.