This picture taken on July 27, 2016 in Istanbul shows the gate of Murat Hudagendigar University under chain. ©AFP

Source: Press TV

The Turkish Foreign Ministry staffers have become the latest target of Ankara’s coup-related crackdown, with officials saying dozens of employees have been fired over suspected links to the recent foiled putsch.

Speaking to Turkish broadcaster NTV on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said 88 employees of the ministry were sacked on suspicion of having links to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based opposition cleric accused of being the mastermind of the botched military coup.

The dismissals were the latest in a series of purges related to the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey. Reports say more than 60,000 people have been sacked, suspended or detained as part of the government’s massive clampdown on those branded as coup plotters or sympathizers.

At least 246 people were killed and more than 2,100 others sustained injuries when an army faction, using hijacked helicopters and tanks, clashed with government troops and people on the streets of the capital, Ankara, and the city of Istanbul.

Shortly after the coup bid was declared over on July 16, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Gulen of being behind the coup attempt.

A detained Turkish soldier who allegedly took part in a military coup arrives with his hands bound behind his back at the Istanbul Justice Palace (Adalet Sarayi) on July 20, 2016. ©AFP

However, Gulen denied any involvement and warned that the blame game could be a ploy by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party to cement its grip on power.

The Turkish government has asked the US government to extradite Gulen. Washington has said it is considering Ankara’s request.

Many of those purged have been from the military, although the government said Wednesday that the number of dismissed soldiers and officers accounted only for 1.5 percent of the armed forces.

The developments come as top military commanders were to meet later in the day to decide on one of the most radical shake-ups in the history of the country’s armed forces.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is to attend the meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAS) in Ankara, which will also see the participation of land, sea and air force commanders, along with other top figures untarnished by the attempted power grab.

The council will decide on the personnel changes deemed necessary after the coup. Many say this will be an opportunity to promote lower-ranking officers to fill gaps created in top positions after the massive crackdown.

A Turkish official said, confirming a government decree, that 87 land army generals, 30 air force generals and 32 admirals have been dishonorably discharged over their complicity in the coup.

The source said 1,099 officers and 436 junior officers have also received a dishonorable discharge.

The Turkish government has vowed to severely punish coup plotters, sparking concerns about human rights breaches.

Amnesty International said earlier that it has “credible evidence” that around 10,000 Turkish soldiers face severe punishments for their part of the failed military coup against Erdogan.