Turkey arrests 50 people for Gulen links
ANKARA - Turkish police Thursday detained 50 people including soldiers and air force pilots in raids in 11 cities against those accused of links to the group blamed for last year's failed coup, state media reported.
Prosecutors in the northwestern city of Eskisehir issued arrest warrants for 66 people as part of a probe into followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in the Turkish air force, state-run news agency Anadolu reported.
Those targeted include an unknown number of air force pilots and serving soldiers, as well as civilians suspected of being so-called "secret imams" who are alleged to be in charge of Gulenists in the military.
The agency said raids are continuing to find the 16 other suspects.
The operation comes after police staged an operation on Wednesday to detained 360 people, including 333 soldiers, as part of a probe into the Gulen network in the armed forces.
Ankara claims Gulen ordered the July 15, 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Gulen strongly denies the claims.
Since a state of emergency was imposed last July, more than 50,000 people have been arrested in a crackdown on the movement which has raised alarm in Western capitals.
Turkey's Western allies have said they are worried by the scale of the purge in which over 140,000 people have been suspended or sacked from the public sector including judges, members of the military and police officers.
However, Ankara insists the raids are necessary to go after a group it has dubbed the "Fethullah Terrorist Organisation" (FETO) and to rid Turkey of the "virus" formed by the movement's infiltration of key Turkish institutions.
Gulen, living in self-imposed exile in the US state of Pennsylvania since 1999, insists his group is peaceful and has no links to terr