U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged the Turkish government to uphold democratic principles as it purges thousands of officials in the aftermath of an attempted coup.

Widespread arrests and dismissals of those allegedly linked to a failed coup plot in Turkey intensified on Monday as authorities sacked 8,000 police officers and raised fears of an all-out purge – eliciting statements of caution from Kerry and other Western officials.

Turkish media reported that prosecutors started interrogating more than two-dozen generals, including the alleged coup leader, over the attempted overthrow that began late Friday. The reports said at least 30 governors – more than a third of the total – have been fired amid thousands of nationwide dismissals.

The international community has strongly backed the Turkish government against the coup, but there has been some disquiet about the recent purges.

Federia Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said Monday that the rule of law and system of check and balances must be respected in the coup’s aftermath.

Fighter jets, meanwhile, patrolled the skies, and people seemed on edge over the potential for more unrest in this NATO member country key ally of the United States.


In a sign of the ongoing tension, a soldier opened fire at the main courthouse in the capital Ankara, said a senior official, who added that he was detained and there were no casualties.

Reports in local media that thousands of members of the police force across the country had been sacked followed on an anouncement the day before that 6,000 people, about half from the military, had already been detained.

The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have turned on the police forces despite the fact that they joined thousands of fellow Turks over the weekend who heeded his call to take to the streets and oppose the renegade soldiers carrying out the coup.

At least 265 people died in the coup that saw tanks and helicopters firing on civilians supporting the government in a night of chaos and violence in major Turkish cities.

The coup attempt has apparently given Erdogan the opportunity to further concentrate power in his hands. The nationwide arrests and dismissals have unsettled a country that was already bitterly divided over what many describe as a years-long effort by the Turkish leader to cripple his rivals and weaken independent institutions.

In the wake of the failed coup, he has suggested restoring capital punishment, which was abolished in 2004.


The statement earned a sharp rebuked from Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz ahead of a meeting with fellow European Union ministers, who called it “absolutely unacceptable.”

“There must be no arbitrary purges, no criminal sanctions outside the framework of the rule of law and the justice system,” he said in newspaper interview published Monday.

At the meeting itself, the E.U. commissioner negotiating with Turkey over joining the union accused Turkey of having lists prepared ahead of time and called the government’s response “exactly what we feared.”

Arrest warrants have also been issued for at least 2,745 judges and prosecutors across the country, according to Turkish media reports.

Alarm over what is seen by many as Erdogan’s apparent attempts to further marginalize all forms of opposition comes as the country is mired in a string of crises, including deep divisions over the role of Islam in Turkish politics, worsening unrest from within the large minority of Kurdish citizens and spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Turkey defense minister told supporters of Erdogan to stay in the streets for now, warning that the threat of the coup was not over.

“The coup was prevented, but we can’t say the threat is gone,” said Fikri Isik, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. “We ask you to closely follow every statement of Mr. President and stay in the squares.”

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