November 16, 2017 / 7:12 AM / 2 years ago

Turkey detains 136 for suspected ties to coup plotters: agency

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey detained 136 people, including former police, teachers and soldiers, in four separate operations on Thursday over suspected links to last year’s attempted military coup, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Authorities detained 60 former security officials in the operation centered in the capital Ankara and spread over 30 provinces, Anadolu said.

In a separate operation that began on Wednesday and centered on Diyarbakir and spread over 26 other provinces, 55 soldiers were detained, Anadolu said. Officials were still searching for one more suspect.

Six others were detained in the northern provinces of Samsun and Karabuk, as well as 15 teachers in Ankara, Anadolu said. The suspects were alleged to be using the encrypted messaging app, ByLock, which the government says was used by the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Ankara blames Gulen, for orchestrating the failed coup in July 2016. Gulen has denied involvement and denounced the putsch.

More than 50,000 people, including police, military personnel and civil servants, have been jailed pending trial in the aftermath of the July 2016 coup. Some 150,000 people were sacked or suspended.

The crackdown has alarmed Turkey’s Western allies and rights groups, who say President Tayyip Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent.

The government says the measures, taken under emergency rule that was imposed after the coup, are necessary due to the security threats Turkey faces.

Reporting by Daren Butler; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Richard Balmforth

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