Sunday Turkey widened a crackdown on suspected supporters of a failed military coup taking the number of people rounded up in the armed forces and judiciary to 6,000, and the government said it was in full control of the country and economy.
Overnight, supporters of President Tayyip Erdogan rallied in public squares, at Istanbul airport and outside his palace in a show of defiance after the coup attempt. The Foreign Ministry raised the death toll to more than 290, including over 100 rebels, while 1,400 people were injured.
European politicians warned Erdogan that the coup attempt did not give him a blank cheque to disregard the rule of law, and that he risked isolating himself internationally as he strengthens his position at home.
Broadcaster NTV cited Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag as saying that more arrests were expected on top of the 6,000 people already detained.
Authorities have rounded up nearly 3,000 suspected military plotters, ranging from top commanders to foot soldiers, and the same number of judges and prosecutors after forces loyal to Erdogan crushed the attempted coup on Saturday.
Among those arrested is General Bekir Ercan Van, commander of the Incirlik air base from which U.S. aircraft launch air strikes on Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, an official said. Erdogan’s chief military assistant was also detained, broadcaster CNN Turk said.
Erdogan told crowds on Sunday that the coup attempt had been put down by the “national will”, blaming “those who cannot bear the unity of our country and are under the orders of masterminds to take over the state”.
On Saturday, Labour Minister Suleyman Soylu told broadcaster Haberturk he believed Washington was behind the coup attempt. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry described public suggestions of a U.S. role as “utterly false”, and said on Sunday that Washington had no intelligence of the coup before it began.
The crackdown intensifies a longstanding push by Erdogan to root out the influence of followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Erdogan accuses followers of Gulen, who was once an ally but is now his arch-enemy, of trying to create a “parallel structure” within the courts, police, armed forces and media with an aim to topple the state.
The cleric has denied this and said he played no role in the attempted coup, denouncing it as an affront to democracy.
Erdogan said Turkey’s justice and foreign ministries would write to Western governments to demand the return of Gulen’s supporters from those countries.
Kerry said he had no evidence that Gulen was behind the plot to seize power, and he urged Turkish authorities to compile evidence as rapidly as possible so the United States could evaluate whether he should be extradited to Turkey.
Even before the coup attempt was over, Erdogan promised a purge of the armed forces. “They will pay a heavy price for this,” he said. “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.”
At a rally late on Saturday, his supporters demanded that the coup leaders be executed. “Let’s hang them!” chanted the crowd in Ankara’s central Kizilay square. Erdogan told them that parliament may consider a proposal to bring back the death penalty, which has been abolished.
Erdogan’s critics say he will use the purge to create a pliant judiciary, eliminating any dissenting voices in the courts.
Some European politicians have expressed their unease about developments since the coup attempt.
“(The coup attempt) is not a blank cheque for Mr Erdogan. There cannot be purges, the rule of law must work,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Ayrault told France 3 television that European Union ministers would reiterate on Monday when they meet in Brussels that Turkey – which has applied to join the bloc – must conform to Europe’s democratic principles.
European Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Erdogan would move Turkey away from the core values represented by the EU and the NATO defense alliance – of which it is a long-standing member – if he decided to use the attempted coup to restrict basic democratic rights further.
“He would strengthen his position domestically, but he would isolate himself internationally,” Oettinger, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
Some European politicians are also expressing concern about the future of a deal between the EU and Ankara that has helped to slow numbers of migrants crossing from the country to neighboring Greece.
Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek took to Twitter to try to reassure investors the Turkish government was in full control of the economy before financial markets opened on Monday.