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Turkey's 85,000 mosques pray for dead in coup

Turkish soldiers are seen on the Asian side of Istanbul, Friday, July 15, 2016. A group within Turkey's military has engaged in what appeared to be an attempted coup, the prime minister said, with military jets flying over the capital and reports of vehicles blocking two major bridges in Istanbul. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told NTV television: "it is correct that there was an attempt," when asked if there was a coup. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

ANKARA, Turkey – Prayers are being read simultaneously from Turkey’s 85,000 mosques at noon to rally the country to defend its democracy and honour those who died in an attempted military coup.

Sela prayers are traditionally recited from mosques during funerals, though they are also performed to rally people. During Friday night’s attempted military coup, sela prayers were repeatedly recited from mosques across the country throughout the night to rally the people against the coup plotters.

Religious Affairs Directorate President Mehmet Garmez told private channel Ulke TV that “as a nation who wasn’t disturbed by the barrel of tanks pointed at the people or the sounds of F-16s flying overhead, I do not see anyone in this land who would be disturbed by the sound of sela. This tradition will continue.”

The Turkish government has accelerated its crackdown on alleged plotters of the botched coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, issuing dozens of arrest warrants for judges and prosecutors and detaining military officers.

Already, three of the country’s top generals have been detained, alongside hundreds of soldiers.

The government has also dismissed nearly 3,000 judges and prosecutors from their posts, while investigators were preparing court cases to send the conspirators to trial on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.

The botched coup, which saw warplanes fly over key government installations and tanks roll up in major cities briefly, ended hours later when loyal government forces including military and police regained control of the military and civilians took to the streets in support of Erdogan.

At least 265 people were killed and over 1,400 were wounded. Government officials say at least 104 conspirators were killed.