Erdogan targets more than 50,000 in post-coup purge

More than 50,000 people have been rounded up, sacked or suspended from their jobs by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of last week's failed coup

Thousands of soldiers and state workers were arrested following the failed coup
Thousands of soldiers and state workers were arrested following the failed coup

Some 50,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or detained in Turkey since last week's failed coup attempt, stirring tensions across the country which borders Syria's chaos and is a Western ally against Islamic State.

The purge of those deemed disloyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan widened on Tuesday to include teachers, university deans and the media.

The government says they are allied to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who denies claims he directed the uprising. The crackdown widened on Tuesday to include the education sector and government departments.

Turkish media announced that: 15,200 teachers and other education staff had been sacked, 1,577 university deans were ordered to resign, 8,777 interior ministry workers were dismissed, 1,500 staff in the finance ministry had been fired and 257 people working in the prime minister's office were sacked.

Turkey's media regulation body on Tuesday also revoked the licences of 24 radio and TV channels accused of links to Gulen.

The news came on top of the arrests of more than 6,000 military personnel and the sackings of nearly 9,000 police officers. About 3,000 judges have also been suspended.

The removal of thousands of officials has alarmed international observers, with the UN urging Turkey to uphold the rule of law and defend human rights.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the preacher led a "terrorist organisation". "We will dig them up by their roots," he told parliament.

Turkey is pressing the US to extradite Gulen and the issue was raised during a phone call between US President Barack Obama and President Erdogan on Tuesday, the White House said.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said a decision on whether or not to extradite would be made under a treaty between the two countries.