ANKARA, Turkey, Oct. 4 (UPI) — Turkey dismissed 12,801 members of its national police force Tuesday over allegations they are tied to Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of orchestrating July’s failed coup attempt.
The reduction amounts to about 18 percent of the police force.
Turkey’s Security General Directorate announced the officers were dismissed because of suspected links to Gulen. The government has blamed followers of Pennsylvania-based Gulen, for organizing the July 15 coup attempt in which 241 people died. The directorate noted that 2,543 of those dismissed Tuesday are ranking officers.
Gulen, who lives in reclusive and self-imposed exile, has denied any involvement in the attempted overthrow of the government. Turkey has demanded his extradition from the United States and has accused him of leading a campaign to infiltrate the Turkish government as a means of overthrowing it.
Since the failed coup, Turkey declared a three-month state of emergency, which it extended for another three months. It has also attempted to purge its armed forces, police, government, media and schools of anyone suspected of involvement with the Gulen movement. Over 81,000 people have been dismissed from their positions, including 28 mayors, and over 2,000 institutions associated with Gulen, including schools and hospitals, have been shut down.