Turkey coup attempt claims 160 lives; mass arrests and military purge follow

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames followers of cleric Fethullah Gulen for the attempted coup.

Scores of people including civilians were killed and more than a thousand injured as rebel soldiers in Turkish military staged a coup attempt on Friday night.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the coup attempt was an "act of treason" and those who are responsible for this would have to pay a heavy price. The authorities have detained 336 people nationwide over the attempted coup. Key leaders of the coup have reportedly fled to Greece.

More than 160 people were killed rebel soldiers tried to seize power using tanks and attack helicopters, Reuters reported.

Erdogan blamed the followers of the U.S. based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in comments broadcast live on private station NTV, for the coup attempt.

The government, which affirmed it was in control of the situation, has gone ahead with mass arrests and purges within the military.

Officials said close to 3,000 people have been arrested. Erdogan said the coup attempt was an opportunity to cleanse the military. "They will pay a heavy price for this ... This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army," he said.

Both the main city Istanbul and capital Ankara were rocked by gunfire and explosions after the soldiers took positions in both cities. The plotting army group ordered the state television to read out a statement which declared that they had taken power.

But early on Saturday, Reuters reported that "around 30 pro-coup soldiers surrender their weapons after being surrounded by armed police in Istanbul's central Taksim square". Later they were taken away in police vans.

A Turkish military commander said that following the orders of Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, fighter jets had shot down a helicopter that was used by the coup plotters. According to the state-run Andolu Agency, 17 police officers were killed at Special Forces headquarters.

Meanwhile, a senior Turkish official said on Saturday that bomb attacks are still continuing on Turkey's parliament. He also said that the rebel soldiers have been warned of being killed, if they use more military aircraft.

However, the whereabouts of the Turkey military chief, Gen Hulusi Akar, are still unknown. Reports have suggested that he has been taken hostage by rebel soldiers.