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Turkish military statement says “seized power;” president urges people to protect democracy

A military statement on Turkish media said Friday the armed forces have fully seized power in the country but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said early Saturday the coup attempt has failed, urging people to protect democracy.

According to the military statement, reported on NTV, the military move was made to restore the constitutional order, democracy, human rights, freedom and rule of law.

The statement said that all our international agreements and commitments is continue to be kept valid.

“We hope that our good relations with all countries of the world will be continued,” the statement said.

President Erdogan’s office website said he is safe and and that a coup attempt by a small group of soldiers was “unsuccessful.”

In his appearance on CNNTurk via a reporter’s mobile phone, Erdogan urged people to take to the streets to protect “democracy.”

“This is an act encouraged by the parallel structure.” he said. “I believe that this act will have the necessary punishment that will be given by our nation.”

The president was referring to the movement led by U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, who has been accused of running a parallel state and trying to topple the Turkish government.

“I will be at the squares as well either in Istanbul or Ankara,” Erdogan said in remarks delivered later on NTV.

Shortly after Erdogan’s statement, soldiers started leaving the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, while some Turks walk toward the airport, the Hurriyet daily said.

It said supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among the throng gathering there.

Reports earlier said that tanks were sent to the airport, where all flights were canceled.

In Ankara, helicopters could be heard hoving above. There were also reports of gunshots and explosions heard in the capital.

There were also reports of tanks being deployed outside the Turkish parliament.

On the capital’s Kizilay Avenue, Xinhua reporters saw a large crowd gathering, some throwing rocks on tanks passing by and calling for peace.

On Friday evening, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told local media that there has been a coup attempt.

“This is a mutiny attempt; we will not let it win,” Anadolu Agency quoted Yildirim as saying. “Those who are doing this will be punished in the hardest way.”

Meanwhile, NTV reported that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar was taken hostage by a group of soldiers.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the coup attempt is unlawful and Ankara and Istanbul public prosecutors have launched an investigation, Milliyet News reported.

“The coup of some armed forces was made without command,” Bozdag said. “It is time we show our attitude to democracy.”

In Istanbul, the gendarmerie closed the two bridges that connect the city’s Asian and European parts over the Bosphorus Strait, with tanks reported on the bridges.

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