Turkish military chiefs quizzed over coup plot

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Prosecutors were interrogating 51 Turkish military commanders yesterday about alleged plans to destabilise the country by blowing up mosques to trigger a coup and topple the Islamic-rooted government.

With the former chiefs of the air force and the navy among those being questioned, it was the highest profile crackdown ever on the Turkish military, which has ousted four governments since 1960. The military said in a statement that all top generals and admirals met at the military headquarters yesterday to evaluate "the serious situation" regarding the investigation. It made no further statement.

The sweep has dramatically deepened a power struggle between the secular establishment and the government, which has strong electoral backing and the support of the European Union.