Turkish police on Tuesday launched nationwide raids to detain 168 individuals suspected of ties to the group blamed for a 2016 coup attempt, state media reported.
Since the failed overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, authorities have detained tens of thousands of individuals accused of links to the group led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey accuses Gulen of ordering the attempted putsch, which he strongly denies.
The Izmir public prosecutor in the Aegean region issued arrest warrants for 65 suspects across 30 provinces including a colonel and lieutenant as part of a probe into the movement’s presence inside the armed forces, state news agency Anadolu reported.
The agency said another 22 suspects were sought by police. Some were accused of using an encrypted messaging application which authorities suspect was also used to coordinate the coup bid.
And in another probe in central Turkey, the Konya public prosecutor issued detention warrants for 63 individuals, including soldiers across 30 provinces as well, Anadolu said.
In the capital, the Ankara public prosecutor’s office said police sought to arrest 18 suspects in eight provinces including former personnel from the foreign and health ministries.
A total of 28 suspects had already been rounded up across Turkey including 11 in Ankara, the reports said.
More than 140,000 public sector employees have been sacked or suspected over alleged links to Gulen since 2016.
There have been almost daily raids across the country with hundreds of detentions in recent months despite criticism from Western allies and rights defenders who accuse the government of using the purge to crackdown on dissent.
But Turkish officials insist the raids are necessary to remove Gulen’s influence in state institutions.