Erdogan enemy Gulen denies being behind Turkey coup attempt

A man lies in front of a tank at the entrance to Istanbul's Atatürk airport. (Ismail Coskun, HA via AP)
A man lies in front of a tank at the entrance to Istanbul's Atatürk airport. (Ismail Coskun, HA via AP)

New York - Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric and former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, denied being behind the attempted coup in Turkey and condemned it "in the strongest terms".

"As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations," Gulen said in a brief statement just before 00:00 on Friday.

"I condemn, in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey," read the two-paragraph statement.

"Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force.

READ: Rattled Erdogan speaks to Turkey via mobile phone

At least 60 people have been killed and 336 detained in a night of violence across Turkey sparked when elements in the military staged an attempted coup, a senior Turkish official said.

The majority of those killed were civilians and most of those detained are soldiers, said the official, without giving further details.

State-run Anadolu Agency reports 754 members of armed forces have been detained across Turkey.

"I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly," Gulen said.

Erdogan has accused the reclusive Islamic preacher, who lives in a tiny town in the Pocono Mountains of the US state of Pennsylvania, of being behind the coup.

Gulen, 75, was once a close ally of Erdogan but the two fell out in recent years as Erdogan became suspicious of Gulen's movement, Hizmet, and its powerful presence in Turkish society, including the media, police and judiciary.

The preacher moved to the US in 1999, before he was charged with treason in his native country.

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