ANKARA Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters on Thursday that there were significant failures in intelligence ahead of last Friday’s attempted military coup and that the armed forces would quickly be restructured.
In his first interview since declaring a state of emergency following the abortive coup, Erdogan said a new coup attempt was possible but would not be easy, saying “we are more vigilant”.
“It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it. I told it to the head of national intelligence,” Erdogan told Reuters in his palace in Ankara, which was targeted during the coup attempt.
He said there was no obstacle to extending the state of emergency beyond the initial three months if necessary.
Erdogan said the movement of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who he blames for masterminding the attempt to seize power, would be treated as “another separatist terrorist organisation”, drawing a parallel to the state’s fight against Kurdish militants over the past three decades.
“We will continue the fight … wherever they might be. These people have infiltrated the state organisation in this country and they rebelled against the state,” he said, calling the actions of Friday night “inhuman” and “immoral”.
He said the death toll had risen to 246 people excluding the coup plotters and that 2,185 people were wounded. Soldiers used fighters jets, military helicopters and tanks to strike institutions including parliament, the intelligence agency and Erdogan’s palace in Friday’s violence in Istanbul and Ankara.
(Reporting by Samia Nakhoul, Nick Tattersall, Orhan Coskun, Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Nick Tattersall)