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    Top military arrested in coup conspiracy probe in Turkey

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    Police detained former air force and navy commanders on Monday among 49 people as part of investigation into an alleged plot to topple the government, Turkish media reported.

    Police detained former air force and navy commanders on Monday among 49 people as part of investigation into an alleged plot to topple the government, Turkish media reported.

    A total of 49 top military officials, including 17 retired generals, four serving admirals, 27 officers and one enlisted man, were detained in raids in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, NTV channel said.

    Armed forces chief General Ilker Basbug postponed a trip to Egypt following the detentions, CNN-Turk reported.

    Among those detained were former Air Force Commander Ibrahim Firtina, former Navy Commander Ozden Ornek and former Deputy Chief of the General Staff General Ergin Saygun, television reports said.

    The so-called "sledgehammer" plot dates back to 2003 when the Taraf newspaper said the military, who have overthrown four governments since 1960, planned to provoke a crisis with Greece by having a Turkish plane shot down in Greek airspace, and plant bombs in mosques in Istanbul to trigger chaos and declare state of emergency to destabilize Tayyip Erdogan's government.

    The army chief has dismissed the allegations, saying coups are past in Turkey, a NATO nation seeking to join the European Union.

    The plot is believed to be linked to the Ergenekov conspiracy in which military officials and other secularists allegedly planned to trigger unrest leading to a coup. Some 200 people, including military and police officers, lawyers, politicians and journalists, are already on trial in connection with the case.

    The cases are seen by many as part of an ongoing power struggle between Turkey's secular army and judiciary and the ruling AK Party.

     

    ANKARA, February 22 (RIA Novosti)

     

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