World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish police have detained former heads of the air force and navy and other senior officers under an investigation into an alleged plot to undermine the ruling government and trigger a military coup, broadcasters reported on Monday.
The swoop, one of the largest in the country against the armed forces, follows reports of several alleged plots in the past year.
Turkish media said former Air Force Commander Ibrahim Firtina, former Naval Commander Ozden Ornek and several other senior retired military officers were detained in the cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir as part of an investigation into an alleged coup plot -- named Balyoz (Sledgehammer) and related to the Ergenekon case.
Interior Minister Besir Atalay, accompanying Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on an official visit to Spain, said he was being kept informed of developments, state-run Anatolian news agency reported.
Retired Former Air Forces Commander Gen. Ibrahim Firtina, Navy Commander Ozden Ornek, Brig. Gen. Umit Ozcan, Lt. Gen. Engin Alan, Lt. Gen. Ayhan Tas, Gen. Ergin Saygun and another 10 colonels were reportedly detained.
The homes of retired First Army Commander Retired Gen. Cetin Dogan and ret. Gen. Suha Tanyeli also has been searched.
Dogan's name appeared in press as the 'mastermind of the Sledgehammer.'
Reports said seven serving officers and seven retired officers had been detained, and the current armed forces chief General Ilker Basbug had cancelled a trip to Egypt as a result.
There was no immediate official comment on the reports.
Other senior military officers have been indicted on charges of planning a separate plot to overthrow the AK Party.
According to previous media reports on the Sledgehammer plan, denied by the military, the army had plotted to provoke Greek fighter jets into shooting down a Turkish military jet and planned to plant bombs in mosques and museums in Istanbul to stir chaos.
Last month Taraf newspaper said it had obtained 5,000 pages of documents and tapes on the Sledgehammer plan, which was aimed at showing the AK Party was unable to protect the public and to justify an army takeover in 2003.
The military has said documents quoted by the paper were part of a military training seminar but were "never meant to be carried out and were not part of a conspiracy".
Related news reports:Last Mod: 22 Şubat 2010, 16:01