Turkey raids hundreds of soldiers for coup links

Ankara aims to detain over 240 military personnel over alleged links with Muslim preacher blamed for failed coup.

ANKARA - Turkish police launched raids Tuesday seeking to arrest more than 240 military personnel suspected of ties to the group blamed for a 2016 coup attempt, officials said, in an ongoing crackdown that has already seen thousands jailed.

The Istanbul public prosecutor said it issued arrest warrants for 176 active duty military personnel, including a colonel, five majors and 100 lieutenants from the different armed forces over alleged links to Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen's movement.

Turkey says US-based Gulen ordered the failed overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Gulen vehemently denies the charge.

The Izmir public prosecutor in the Aegean region issued arrest warrants for 35 suspects including 20 soldiers on active duty and 10 civilians, state news agency Anadolu said.

The agency said eight suspects had been detained already.

In the northwestern province of Kocaeli, the prosecutor sought the arrest of 17 suspects including nine current and former soldiers across seven cities, Anadolu reported.

The Ankara public prosecutor later Tuesday said it issued 32 arrest warrants for military personnel in the air force including a colonel and nine lieutenants.

Authorities have detained tens of thousands of individuals since 2016. The raids show no sign of slowing with almost daily reports of arrest warrants issued despite criticism from Western allies and rights defenders.

Critics say the government is using the purge to crack down on dissent. But Turkish officials stress the raids are necessary to eradicate Gulen's influence in state bodies.