By Zafer Fatih Beyaz
ANKARA (AA) - Police arrested 124 people, including former police officials, across Turkey on Thursday for suspected links with the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup, according to a security source.
Eighty suspects were arrested from capital Ankara when security forces carried out simultaneous raids on 21 different provinces, the source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The arrests came after warrants were issued for 129 FETO-linked suspects, among them a first-class chief commissioner, nine fourth-class police constables, six police supervisors, four chief inspectors, 11 police commissioners, 28 deputy police commissioners, six chief police officers and 64 police officers.
All of the suspects were sacked from duty with a statutory decree for using FETO’s encrypted messaging app ByLock and maintaining ties to the terrorist group.
Police arrested 19 suspects, including three on-duty soldiers in western Izmir province.
In another operation in northwestern Balikesir province, a former police commissioner known by initials A.S. and six others were arrested.
Separately, police arrested eight suspects, including four women in simultaneous raids conducted across southwestern Denizli province.
Another seven suspects were detained during another operation in central Cankiri province, which was launched after prosecutors issued arrest warrants for their alleged usage of ByLock, an encrypted mobile phone application used by FETO members to communicate during and after the defeated coup.
In Samsun, a northern Black Sea province, police arrested three teachers, all so-called imams among them a senior terrorist responsible for coordinating FETO cells, for their suspected links to the terror group.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
* Muhammed Kaygin from Cankiri, Sebahatdin Zeyrek from Denizli, Mustafa Yildirim and Omer Sut from Izmir, Emrah Yasar from Eskisehir, Seyhan Kirici from Balikesir and Recep Bilek from Samsun contributed to the story.