Politics

A view from Istanbul as the Turkish celebrate failure of military coup

Reporting from the ground in the Turkish city of Istanbul, reporter Joti Heir says tens of thousands of Turks were on city streets in the early hours of Saturday morning tentatively celebrating the overthrow of a military coup.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion says he's 'very concerned' about escalating violence in Turkey

Women wave Turkish flags after troops involved in the coup surrendered on the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul. Many Turks were in a state of jubilation as they congratulated each other for crushing the army's coup attempt, Joti Heir reports from the city. (Murad Sezer/Reuters)

Tens of thousands of Turks are on city streets in the early hours of Saturday morning tentatively celebrating the overthrow of a military coup.

Military uniforms littered bridges and streets as young army officers were placed under arrest overnight. The thousands that stayed awake into morning were in a state of jubilation as they congratulated each other for crushing the army's attempt.

Owners of vehicles abandoned on city streets in panic came back to find tank track imprints, dents and broken windows.

Accusations are already bubbling over with some saying a so-called "parallel state" recruited young, inexperienced military troops to stage the military takeover because there was no appetite among army veterans. Most of the army officers lined up for arrest appeared to be in their early twenties.

Other fingers point at U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen as the architect of the coup attempt. Gulen has had a recent and very public falling out with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Panic ripped through the country Friday night as Turkish army officers shut down bridges, roads and the  international airport.

Turkish Armys APC's move in the main streets in the early morning hours of July 16, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. There was confusion Friday as both elements of the military and government made claims to power. (Defne Karadeniz/Getty Images)

Army officials took over state television studios and issued a statement indicating the government had been overthrown due to its anti-democratic policies.

Via a telephone call broadcast in Turkish media, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Turkish citizens to take to the streets to take back the country.

Shortly after Erdogan's call, imams in numerous city mosques called on citizens to flood the streets to protect the country. The call to prayer, which normally occurs five times a day, blared every five minutes.

'We don't know what is happening'

The calls were apparently heard loud and clear as thousands of women, men and children swarmed streets and bridges midnight Friday, waving Turkish flags while chanting, "Allah ahu Akhbar."

Thousands of families picnic on the shores of the Bosporus Strait during summer evenings. On Friday, the deafening sounds of military jets flying low over the strait broke the reverie as men, women and children ran for cover.

"I don't know, my whole family is here, we are supposed to be safe, we don't know what is happening," said Şule Altintas as she hustled her family toward their parked car on the Asian side of Istanbul.

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      Others tried to put out barbecue flames while trying to reach loved ones, as fear of tanks overtaking city streets spread.

      "I am scared, I don't know what is happening? Is this a terrorist attack," Murat Dedeoğlu said Friday as he watched the sky.

      People feared the situation could quickly become volatile.

      'I cannot believe this is real'

      "This is not possible, I cannot believe this is real, I saw the coups, we are going to be destroyed again," said Ali Can as he moved quickly down a side street with his daughter and grandchildren.

      But instead of streets clearing, they became congested as a citizen army took on the call of their president.

      The cracks and booms of planes stopped just before sunrise as the government declared a victory for the people and for the principles of the country.

      Smoke was seen billowing over the centre of the country's capital Saturday morning.

      Dion 'very concerned'

      Meanwhile Erdogan, who flew into Istanbul early Saturday, addressed supporters that gathered outside of the country's international airport in Istanbul, saying that the people had won and that the perpetrators would be severely dealt with.

      Turkey is no stranger to military coups, with the last one occurring in 1997.

      Tens of thousands are still on the streets Saturday morning.

      Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said on Twitter he is "very concerned about reports from Turkey." At the same time, Global Affairs Canada also went on Twitter to offer assistance to Canadians that may be trapped in the country. 

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