Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 78 suspects across the country over their alleged links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup attempt, security sources said Tuesday.

Local police in the Aegean Izmir province carried out simultaneous operations in 28 cities against the infiltration of the FETO terror group into the Turkish Armed Forces, said a source who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Out of 66 suspects, accused of having contacts with “covert imams” — senior FETO members — by pay phone, 53 of them, including 48 on active duty soldiers, were arrested during the operation.

In a separate operation in the capital Ankara, arrest warrants were issued for 12 teachers, including eight on duty, who are accused of having links with FETO, using ByLock, the terror group’s encrypted smartphone messaging app, trying to recruit people for the group.

At least nine of the suspects were arrested in the operation and the hunt continues for the remaining.

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 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.