The drama that began unfolding in Turkey late Friday evening with the beginning of a failed coup attempt by rebel Turkish soldiers was graphically captured on videos that have gone viral on the internet.
- An Anatomy of a Failed Turkish Coup
- Turkey Coup Attempt: A Timeline
- Deep Rifts in Turkey Military Brass Boil Over Into Coup Attempt
The onset of the coup caught Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodogan on vacation in the Turkish resort of Maramris. "They bombed places I had departed right after I was gone," he said. "They probably thought we were still there," said the president, whose Islamic principles are at odds with the secular political ideology on which modern Turkey was founded.
Erdogan's Justice and Development Party has long had strained relations with the military, which has a history of mounting coups to defend secularism although it has not seized power directly since 1980. The president flew into Istanbul before dawn on Saturday. More than 160 people, including many civilians, were killed in the coup attempt.
The coup began with warplanes and helicopters roaring over Ankara and troops moving in to seal off the bridges over the Bosphorus Straits, which separate Europe and Asia in Istanbul. Video footage from one of those bridges appears to show rebel soldiers firing on civilians after Erdogan called on Turks to take to the streets in defense of the elected government.
Particularly shocking footage, the authenticity of which is not yet confirmed, purportedly shows attack helicopters firing on civilians.
Another video shows rebel soldiers on one Bosphorus bridge surrendering:
Ankara, the Turkish capital, was also the scene of high drama at the parliament building. Video from inside and outside the parliament chamber showed the building being rocked by an explosion.
By the early hours of Saturday, lawmakers were hiding in shelters inside the building, which was being fired on by tanks. An opposition deputy told Reuters parliament was hit three times and that people had been wounded.
A video was also posted of a Turkish plane bombing a site where civilians had gathered near Erdogan's presidential palace in the capital.
Finally, the media itself became part of the story, as might be expected in a coup attempt. Rebel soldiers took over Turkish state broadcaster TRT television for a time. And at CNN's Turkish-language station, CNN Turk, a dramatic struggle ensued between rebel soldiers who had occupied the station and civilians and Turkish police who entered the building to retake it: