ISTANBUL, Turkey, July 18 (UPI) — The Turkish government has arrested at least 6,000 people late Sunday after surviving an attempted coup, even as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan mourned the dead.
Erdogan broke down in tears and vowed revenge at a funeral for a friend and many of the other 290 Turks killed in the failed coup. About half of the dead, the foreign ministry said, were members of the coup.
Among those arrested are 29 of the country’s top generals, including Erdogan’s top military aide Col Ali Yazici.
“We will continue to cleanse the virus from all state institutions, because this virus has spread. Unfortunately like a cancer, this virus has enveloped the state,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told mourners.
Erdogan eulogized Erol Olçak, old friend and longtime political ally who was killed along with Olçak’s son.
“We march in our funeral shrouds, and we will deal with these assassins, this cult, these followers of Fethullah,” Erdoğan said. The president has claimed the coup was directed by Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric exiled in the U.S.
Turkey has seen many failed coup attempts over its modern history, with the most recent in 1997.
“Coup plotters don’t care about the citizens – they just care about their own leaders,” said 57-year-old former government worker Mehmet Aydin, who was forced to take part in the 1980 coup attempt.