ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police detained 172 people in the latest operation targeting supporters of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen within the army, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.
Ankara accuses Gulen and his network of orchestrating an attempted coup last year. Gulen denies the charge.
The Istanbul prosecutor’s office issued detention warrants for a total of 360 people, including 333 soldiers, of which 216 were active-duty personnel, Anadolu said. Some ten of the suspects were abroad.
Istanbul police officers were continuing operations to capture the suspects, it said. The private Dogan news agency said seven of those facing arrest were pilots.
More than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial over alleged links to Gulen, while 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the public and private sectors since the July 15 failed putsch, in which 250 people were killed.
Sixteen months on, operations targeting supporters of the U.S.-based cleric are continuing on a daily basis. Last week, nearly 700 people were detained in related investigations.
While Turkey’s Western allies and rights groups have voiced concern that Ankara is using the investigations to crack down on dissent, Turkey says only such a purge could neutralise the threat presented by Gulen’s network, which it says infiltrated institutions such as the military, judiciary and schools.
Writing by Daren Butler and Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Dominic Evans and Ralph Boulton