Turkey has detained 6,000 people over Friday’s failed coup and the number is expected to rise further, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has said.
The sweep has included high-ranking soldiers and 2,700 judges. More than 50 senior soldiers were detained in the western province of Denizli on Sunday.
Mr Bozdag described the arrests as a “clean-up operation”.
At least 265 people were killed in clashes as the coup failed.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says parliament might consider a proposal to introduce the death penalty.
Mr Erdogan has accused a US-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen of being behind the plot, which Mr Gulen denies.
The arrests reportedly include Gen Erdal Ozturk, commander of the Third Army; Gen Adem Huduti, commander of the Second Army; and Akin Ozturk, the former Chief of Air Staff.
Major General Ozhan Ozbakir, commander of the Denizli garrison and the 11th Commando Brigade, was among the senior military figures arrested on Sunday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reports.
Turkey has also requested the extradition from Greece of eight military officers who flew there in a Turkish military helicopter to claim political asylum as the coup began to unravel.
One of Turkey’s most senior judges, Alparslan Altan, was taken into custody on Saturday. Some 44 judges and prosecutors were detained overnight in the central city of Konya and 92 in the south-eastern city of Gazientep, the private Dogan news agency reports.
Mr Erdogan said that those behind the plot would pay a heavy price, calling the coup a “gift from God… because this will be a reason to cleanse our army”.
He called on the US to extradite Mr Gulen, who heads the popular Hizmet movement. and is said to count military chiefs and mid-level bureaucrats among his followers.
Once allies, Mr Erdogan has long accused Mr Gulen and his supporters of plotting against him.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said of any extradition, that Turkey should “present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny. And the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgements about it appropriately”.
Mr Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup. The 75-year-old has been in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania for the past 15 years, and said: “I don’t even know who my followers [in Turkey] are.”
Turkey’s Labour Minister Suleyman Soylu suggested on Saturday that the US had been behind the coup – an allegation that received a strong rebuke from Mr Kerry who described it as “utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations”.
US President Barack Obama has joined other world leaders in calling for all parties in Turkey to “act within the rule of law”.
Tens of thousands of Turks partied into the small hours of Sunday in celebration of the failure of the coup.
Many of those who have been critical of President Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism welcomed the speedy extinguishing of a coup as a victory for democracy, says the BBC’s Middle East World Service Editor Sebastian Usher.
But they are now holding their breath to see how Turkey’s much prized democratic system will bear up as Mr Erdogan takes full advantage of his personal triumph in defeating those who tried to bring him down, he adds.
The attempted coup happened because Turkey is deeply divided over President Erdogan’s project to transform the country and because of the contagion of violence from the war in Syria.
President Erdogan and his AK Party have become experts at winning elections, but there have always been doubts about his long-term commitment to democracy. He is a political Islamist who has rejected modern Turkey’s secular heritage. Mr Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian and is trying to turn himself into a strong executive president.
From the beginning Mr Erdogan’s government has been deeply involved in the war in Syria, backing Islamist opposition to President Assad. But violence has spread across the border, helping to reignite the fight with the Kurdish PKK, and making Turkey a target for the jihadists who call themselves Islamic State.
That has caused a lot of disquiet. Turkey has faced increasing turmoil and the attempt to overthrow President Erdogan will not be the last of it.
Source: BBC 17-07-2016