IZMIR, ANTALYA, Turkey

At least 34 suspects were arrested in Turkey for suspected links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in the country, a security source said Wednesday.

Local police in the Aegean Izmir province carried out simultaneous operations in five cities, said the source who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

At least 19 suspects were arrested, including two expelled police chiefs found to be using ByLock — FETO’s encrypted smartphone messaging app — and contacting terror affiliates via pay phone.

Security forces are searching for five remaining suspects in Izmir.

In a separate operation in the Mediterranean Antalya province, police arrested 15 suspects and four of them were remanded in custody.

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Turkey also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin

Copyright 2021 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.