Turkey marks anniversary of failed coup attempt

For The Los Angeles Times:

Millions of people gathered across Turkey in observance of one year since civilians poured into the streets and confronted rebel soldiers, thwarting what would have been the country’s fourth military coup.

At least 250 people were killed and more than 2,000 wounded the night of July 15, 2016, when a faction of the military deployed fighter jets, attack helicopters, tanks, and other heavy weapons against the government.

The July 15, 2016, Saga, as the Turkish government has branded the event, marked a turning point in a country prone to military coups. The military seized power in 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997.

Late Saturday night, mosques across Turkey broadcast funeral prayers for the dead and public buses and other transportation were free all day to help people attend memorial rallies.

Hundreds of thousands marched over a bridge across the Bosporus in Istanbul, carrying Turkish flags and portraits of the scores of civilians killed. The bridge, now named July 15 Martyr’s Bridge, was just one site of a long night of pitched battles between soldiers and mostly unarmed civilians backing lightly armed police.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who barely escaped an assault by three rebel commando units the night of the attempted coup, addressed the crowd and unveiled a monument commemorating the civilians killed, a few kilometers from his home near the bridge’s entrance.

The night of the coup attempt, thousands of supporters had camped out at Erdogan’s home as a defensive measure officials dubbed a “democracy watch.” One year later, Erdogan asked the crowd to return to the locations where they had confronted soldiers that night.

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