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Social media access restricted in Turkey after military coup announcement

Marketplace Contributor Jul 15, 2016
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Access was restricted in Turkey on Friday to Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube shortly after news that a military coup was under way, according to two internet monitoring groups.

Turkey Blocks, a group that monitors internet shutdowns in the country, and Dyn, which monitors internet performance and traffic globally, both reported it was difficult or impossible to access social media services in Turkey.

Turkey’s military said on Friday it had seized power, but the prime minister said the attempted coup would be put down.

The Turkish government under President Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly moved to block social media in periods of crisis and political uncertainty. It was not immediately clear whether the government or another actor ordered the block late Friday.

The government normally implements its internet restrictions through orders to Turkey’s main internet service providers.

Turkey’s armed forces “fully seized control” of the country Friday, according to a statement from the military published by a Turkish news agency, as gunfire was heard outside military headquarters, fighter jets buzzed over the capital and vehicles blocked two major bridges in Istanbul. The prime minister, however, said there was an “attempt” at a coup.

Soldiers blocked entry to Ataturk Airport where four tanks were stationed, according to the private Dogan news agency. Two other tanks and a military vehicle were stationed in front of the VIP terminal. The report said the soldiers had entered the tower and stopped all flights.

News reports said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was safe and would make a televised statement soon.

The military said it seized control “to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated.”

The military statement went on to say that “all international agreements and commitments will remain. We pledge that good relations with all world countries will continue.”

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that a group within the military has engaged in what appeared to be an attempted coup.

Yildirim told private NTV television: “it is correct that there was an attempt,” when asked if there was a coup. Yildirim didn’t provide details, but said Turkey would never allow any “initiative that would interrupt democracy.”

“We are focusing on the possibility of an attempt (coup),” Yildirim said. “There was an illegal act by a group within the military that was acting out of the chain of military command. Our people should know that we will not allow any activity that would harm democracy.”

Military jets were heard flying over Ankara and Istanbul. Gunfire was heard outside Turkey’s military headquarters in Ankara, while media reports said ambulances were seen out front.

“There are certain groups who took the arms trusted to them by the state and pointed them toward state employees,” Yildirim said. “We shall determine soon who they are. Our security forces have acted against these groups.”

The Dogan news agency says one-way traffic on the Bosporus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges were blocked. Video footage showed the bridge being blocked by military vehicles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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