ISTANBUL: The Turkish government said today a total of 216 soldiers, including nine generals, were still at large after last month's failed coup attempt.
"There are 216 fugitive soldiers in total from the Turkish armed forces and the gendarmerie," Deputy Prime Minister and top government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting.
"Nine of them are generals," he added. Thirty fugitives were from the gendarmerie and 186 from the army.
Kurtulmus however dismissed claims that some of the fugitive soldiers joined the ranks of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants.
He said this was merely "speculation" following a report in the opposition Sozcu daily that 60 plotters including three generals had taken refuge with the PKK in northern Iraq.
Kurtulmus also said nine foreigners were investigated for links with US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen in post-coup inquiries, adding four of them were arrested, three detained, while one was freed and one remained at large.
Ankara has retaliated after the coup blamed on followers of Gulen, dismissing or detaining tens of thousands of people from the military, judiciary, civil service and education linked with the movement.
Turkey had in particular dismissed almost half its contingent of generals over involvement in the coup, indicating how deep the plotters had penetrated inside the military.