Selfies and celebrations in Turkey as military coup is foiled


It appears that the attempted military coup against Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday hasn't just failed, but has actually boosted his popularity.

As the fighting in Ankara and Istanbul - which left more than 250 dead - died down on Saturday, tens of thousands of government supporters marched through the streets of half a dozen Turkish cities, waving flags and singing songs in an emotional outpouring of support for the long-time leader.

Meanwhile, security forces rounded up military personnel it branded coup supporters and launched a purge of judges seen as government opponents. Prime minister Binali Yildirim said the perpetrators of Friday's failed coup "will receive every punishment they deserve".

The coup attempt began on Friday night with tanks rolling into the streets of the capital Ankara and Istanbul as Erdogan was enjoying a seaside holiday. Explosions and gunfire erupted throughout the night. The unrest claimed at least 265 lives, according to a tally compiled from official statements.

By Saturday afternoon, when tensions eased, an atmosphere of celebration broke around as Turks answered official calls to rally in the squares to protect Turkish democracy. Thousands gathered in major cities singing and waving Turkish flags while others held prayers in support of Erdogan and chanted "God is great".

In Istanbul, crowds gathered at Taksim Square, where a man stood on an iconic monument with a Turkish flag draped on his chest.

Government supporters marched through Ankara as cars honked in apparent approval. Some gathered outside parliament and amid the burnt cars outside the presidential palace. One man took a selfie with a Turkish police officer atop an abandoned tank.

"We are here for democracy, so the country lasts," retired soldier Nusret Tuzak said at the Ankara gathering.

By late Saturday afternoon, flights had resumed into Istanbul's international airport after being halted for nearly 24 hours. Mostly national carriers were flying into Istanbul, but other airlines preferred to wait another day to test the precarious security situation.

Government supporters even celebrate at Istanbul's airport
Government supporters even celebrate at Istanbul's airport (Omer Kuscu/AP/PA)

By the evening, the usually buzzing airport was eerily quiet with some stranded travellers sitting on the floor of largely empty terminals.

In an usual show of unity, Turkey's four main political parties released a joint declaration during an extraordinary parliamentary meeting, denouncing the coup attempt and claiming that any moves against the people or parliament will be met "with the iron will of the Turkish Grand National Assembly resisting them".

Turkey's Nato allies lined up to condemn the coup attempt. US president Barack Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg urged all sides to support Turkey's democratically-elected government.