Erdogan: New coup possible, but won't be easy

Turkish President says armed forces will quickly be restructured, state of emergency might be extended beyond three months.

Elad Benari,

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

A day after declaring a three-month state of emergency in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters on Thursday that there were significant failures in intelligence ahead of last Friday's attempted military coup, adding the armed forces would quickly be restructured.

Erdogan told the news agency a new coup attempt was possible but would not be easy, saying "we are more vigilant".

"It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it. I told it to the head of national intelligence," he told Reuters in his palace in Ankara, which was targeted during the coup attempt.

He stressed there was no obstacle to extending the state of emergency beyond the initial three months if necessary.

Erdogan also told Reuters said the movement of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who he blames for masterminding the attempt to seize power, would be treated as "another separatist terrorist organization", drawing a parallel to the state's fight against Kurdish militants over the past three decades.

"We will continue the fight ... wherever they might be. These people have infiltrated the state organization in this country and they rebelled against the state," he said, calling the actions of Friday night "inhuman" and "immoral".

Erdogan, who has requested that the United States extradite Gulen, said on Wednesday it would be a "big mistake" if the United States failed to comply with the request.

Gulen has denied any connection to the coup and has hinted that it might have been staged by Erdogan himself, but also indicated that he would cooperate if the United States were to extradite him.

Erdogan said in Thursday's interview the death toll had risen to 246 people excluding the coup plotters and that 2,185 people were wounded.