Turkish police have rounded up several high-ranking military men as part of a long-running investigation into allegations of a plot to undermine the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The most senior to be arrested was the former Commander of the Turkish Air Force, Ibrahim Firtina.
Also detained in the raids in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir was the former naval commander Ozden Ornek and the ex-Deputy Chief of the General Staff, General Ergin Saygun.
In all, around 40 people were arrested in connection with an alleged conspiracy called ‘Sledgehammer.’
The plot in 2003 supposedly sought to provoke an international diplomatic row, giving the military an excuse to overthrow the government of the AK Party which has a connection with Islam.
The Turkish military denied any such plot existed but senior officers are part of an elite who are known to guard fiercely Turkey’s strict separation between the secular constitution and Islam.
The ruling AK Party has denied critics’ claims that it is trying to turn Turkey into an Islamic state.
More than 200 people, including military officers, lawyers and politicians have been arrested over the past two and a half years, accused of being members of a shadowy anti-AK Party group called Ergenekon.