President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday Turkey could not lift a state of emergency imposed in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016 until the country was completely calm.
“We cannot lift the rule of emergency unless everything reaches peace and welfare,” Erdogan told a meeting of business leaders in Istanbul.
He said that parts of Turkey’s southeast and eastern regions, where the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
has been fighting a decades-old insurgency, were still flooded with weapons.
“At the moment the mountains in the southeast and east are filled with caves, cities have been set up underground filled with ammunition,” Erdogan said.
NAN reports that on Tuesday Turkey ordered the arrest of 85 energy and education ministry staff in an investigation targeting the network of a U.S.-based cleric whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating last July’s attempted coup.
Some 50,000 people have been formally arrested in court cases targeting supporters of cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Erdogan, who is met his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in Washington on Tuesday, is seeking Gulen’s extradition.
No details were immediately available on the latest arrest warrants which came after a court on Monday jailed the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet’s online editor pending trial on a charge of spreading terrorist propaganda, the paper said.
Mass detentions are initially supported by many Turks after last July’s failed putsch, in which rogue troops commandeered warplanes to bomb parliament and used tanks to kill 240 people.
Criticism has mounted as the arrests widened, with relatives of many of those detained or sacked denying their involvement in the coup and calling them victims of a purge.
A total of some 150,000 people, mainly civil servants, security personnel and academics have been suspended or sacked as part of a related crackdown. (Reuters/NAN)