A defiant Erdogan addressed crowds in the city, telling them that the coup had been quashed. “The government is in control,” he told supporters.
Overnight, opposition soldiers had attempted to seize control in a number of locations across the country, including the capital Ankara.
Turkish media reported that 42 people — the majority of whom were police officers — were killed in Ankara in a gunfire exchange with a helicopter near the parliament complex. The report, from TV station NTV, cited the attorney general’s office.
Erdogan, who had traveled overnight from the seaside resort of Marmaris addressed the country Saturday from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, calling the attempt “treason.”
While senior government voices were insisting the coup attempt was under control, the situation remains confusing. Reports from witnesses and posted on social media indicate conflict was ongoing.
Witness Katherine Cohen, an American who’s staying in an Istanbul hotel, told CNN she heard a loud explosion as the sun rose, and gunfire and jets all through the night.
Erdogan addressed Fethullah Gulen, a cleric and former ally who is now who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, who he accused of masterminding the coup.
“Now I’m addressing those in Pennsylvania,” he said.
“The betrayal you have shown to this nation and to this community, that’s enough. If you have the courage, come back to your country. If you can. You will not have the means to turn this country into a mess from where you are.” The Gulen group denied all involvement.
In Ankara, gunfire was heard overnight throughout the city and jets circled above.
“When I stuck my head out, I could see helicopters shooting,” Diego Cupolo, a photojournalist in Ankara told CNN.
He said he could see tracer rounds zip through the air.
Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, however, told CNN by phone that the military coup has failed.
“The government is in full control,” he said. “Already many of the soldiers involved in Ankara have been arrested.”
For much of the night, fighter jets flew low over Istanbul while armored vehicles streamed across a main bridge in the city. Gunshots rang out on that Bosphorus Bridge, sending pro-government protesters down to the ground.
Bombs were thrown at the Parliament building in the capital Ankara. A helicopter the government says was stolen by coup plotters was shot down by an F-16. (Courtesy CNN)