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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Turkey detains dozens more over suspected coup links

The arrested officials allegedly used Bylock, a messaging app used by those suspected of engineering last year's putsch

Dozens of new arrest warrants have been issued for people linked to this man: Fethullah Gulen , who lives in Pennsylvania Gulen but who Ankara says masterminded the attempted coup of July 15, 2016. Mr Gulen denies he charge.Charles Mostoller / Reuters
Dozens of new arrest warrants have been issued for people linked to this man: Fethullah Gulen , who lives in Pennsylvania Gulen but who Ankara says masterminded the attempted coup of July 15, 2016. Mr Gulen denies he charge.Charles Mostoller / Reuters

Turkish police on Tuesday arrested 35 local authority officials in Istanbul over alleged ties to last year's failed coup, just weeks after the city's long-serving mayor stepped down.

Another 77 Istanbul officials also face arrest, with a total of 112 warrants issued for current or former employees of several district authorities.

According to Anadolu news agency, they are accused of being members of an "armed terror group" - referring to the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for orchestrating the bloody coup. He vehemently denies the charges.

The arrested officials allegedly used Bylock, a messaging app used by those suspected of engineering the putsch on July 15, 2016.

Separately, Ankara prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 142 people — 121 of them from the education ministry, most of whom had been sacked, and 21 former employees of the sports ministry. They too are alleged to have used the Block app.

The arrests follow last month's resignation of the mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbas, after 13 years in the key post. Mr Topbas, 72, did not give any reason for his resignation from the job which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself held from 1994 to 1998.

The former mayor found himself in a tricky situation after the coup, with police briefly arresting his son-in-law, a businessman, for alleged links to Mr Gulen.

More than 50,000 people have been arrested since last July, accused of links to the Gulen movement, while more than 140,000 public sector employees have been sacked or suspended.