A senior Turkish military official has called for calm after news that two prominent retired generals were arrested as part of an investigation into a suspected coup. Land forces commander General Ilker Basbug said the country was going through a difficult time and called for careful and responsible behaviour.
The generals were among 21 people detained on Tuesday as part of a nationwide investigation into Ergenekon, a shadowy ultra-nationalist and hardline secularist group. The government has denied that their arrests were politically motivated.
The detentions came as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was forced to fight for his party’s survival in court. Turkey’s chief prosecutor wants the AK closed down over fears it is trying to establish an islamic state. Party officials have denied having an Islamist agenda but a ruling against them could trigger an early election.
Turkey, while predominantly Muslim, has a secular constitution, and the military considers itself the ultimate guardian of the republic founded by Ataturk. It remains at odds with the AK party over the role of religion in life, an issue which has polarised the country for decades.