BREAKING: Military coup underway in Turkey

Posted By: Channel 8 Eyewitness News

Courtesy: ABC News

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UPDATE: ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ State-run Anadolu Agency: 17 police officers killed in helicopter attack on police special forces headquarters in outskirts of Ankara.

A coup was attempted in Turkey Friday with the military taking over state TV there, where a broadcaster there read a letter from a group calling itself the "Turkish peace council" saying that martial law is being imposed.

It was not clear who was behind the attempted coup and reports say the Turkish Chief of Army is in detention.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that security forces were doing what is necessary to resolve the situation and the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose whereabouts were unknown, urged supporters to take to the streets in defiance, saying that Turkey cannot "be run from Pennsylvania," a reference to a political opponent of his who is exiled in the United States.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported that a military helicopter has attacked Ankara police headquarters. It was not clear if there were any injuries. Other clashes and explosions have also been heard in the city.

The Bosphorus Bridge and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge have been closed and Turkey’s Dogan News Agency reports the national police directorate has summoned all police to duty in Ankara.

At first, the scene at Taksim Square, a popular tourist destination in Istanbul, was tense but calm, and people were lining up at ATMs to withdraw cash and buying bread and water in case services go down, an eyewitness told ABC News. Shortly after, pro-military chants started to take place in the square, and then shots were fired, forcing people to leave, she said.

In a FaceTime interview with CNN Turk, Erdogan called on his supporters to gather in the country’s squares and airports.

"We will give a strong reply to the leader of the coup," Erdogan said. "I declare those responsible will receive the highest penalty.”

Erdogan’s whereabouts are unclear, but he’s reported to have been at his summer house in the south of Turkey.

The U.S. State Department confirmed a possible uprising in Turkey and that gunshots have been heard in the area.

U.S. citizens in Turkey were told to shelter in place and stay indoors, the U.S. State Department said, adding to contact family and friends to inform them they’re safe.

President Obama has been briefed on the situation unfolding in Turkey and will continue to receive regular updates, said National Security Council Spokesperson Ned Price.

Turkey has a history of military coups. The last coup was in 1980, when 650,000 people were put under arrest. The country has the second largest army after the U.S. and any NATOcountry.

Erdogan has long blamed a powerful Muslim group led by Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, a moderate Turkish cleric living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, for leading a parallel state.

"This is not a country that can be run from Pennsylvania," Erdogan said.

Before 2013, the two were political allies before falling out over corruption allegations leveled at Erdogan.

In 2012, more than 300 military officers were jailed over an alleged conspiracy to overthrow Erdogan’s government.

The armed forces were long viewed as guardians of secular republic established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, carrying out three coups between 1960 and 1980 and pushing an Islamist-led government from power in 1997.

No further information was immediately available.