Thousands of Turks have taken to the streets of Istanbul to celebrate a failed military coup against the Ankara government that plunged the country into hours of violence and intrigue. The protesters marched to Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Saturday, waving Turkish flags and honking horn.
Some demonstrators climbed on top of Taksim’s central monument commemorating the founding of the Turkish Republic. A number of protesters expressed their support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, chanting his name and carrying his pictures. The botched putsch began late on Friday, when a faction of the Turkish military blocked Istanbul’s iconic Bosphorus Bridge and strafed the headquarters of Turkish intelligence and parliament in the capital, Ankara.
Tanks, helicopters and soldiers clashed with police and people on the streets of the two main Turkish cities. Erdogan rushed back to Istanbul from a Mediterranean holiday and called on people to defy the coup plotters’ orders of a curfew and stage a rally in support of his government.
With the putsch foiled, Turkish authorities rounded up almost 3,000 suspected military plotters on Saturday and ordered 2,745 judges and prosecutors to be arrested. According to the latest reports, the death toll from Turkey’s failed coup stands at 265, including 161 mostly civilians and police as well as 104 coup supporters.