The post-coup attempt fallout continued in Turkey Thursday as authorities ordered the detention of 73 air force pilots alleged to have been part of the failed July putsch.
Turkish state media reported that 45 pilots were detained during police operations across the country, while the others, who had previously been detained, were formally arrested.
Of those detained Thursday, 71 were lieutenants in Turkey’s air force and two were colonels, according to the prosecutor’s office in Konya, the city where the warrants were issued.
The officers are accused of having links to a group led by U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fetullah Gulen, who Turkish authorities say masterminded the coup attempt. He denies any involvement.
Since the coup attempt, around 100,000 military, police, judiciary and education employees have been fired. Around 30,000 have been arrested for alleged links to the coup.
Thousands of judges have been detained under emergency rule, including two members of the Constitutional Court.
Gulen, according to experts, has hundreds of thousands of supporters in Turkey, who have built a wide network of businesses and private schools and supporters across the country.
The government has said it is determined to break up this network, which it accuses of not only supporting the coup attempt, but running a parallel state that favors its supporters and crushes opponents.
Western nations have expressed concern over the legality of the post-coup purge, though Turkey has maintained that it’s acting within the law while dealing with an unprecedented danger.