Turkey marks anniversary of failed coup with rallies

ANKARA, July 15 -- Millions of people across Turkey began on Saturday marking the first anniversary of foiling the failed coup attempt last year.

The commemoration events were launched with a special session in the parliament's general assembly at 1:00 p.m. local time (GMT 1000) in the capital Ankara.

"One year has passed since Turkey's darkest night was transformed into a bright morning," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in the parliament, in the presence of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and members of the opposition.

"Our people did not leave sovereignty to their enemies and took hold of democracy to the death," he noted.

Speaking at the parliament, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu slammed Turkey's National Intelligence Agency (MIT) for "not giving sufficient information" on the coup bid.

On July 15, 2016, coup plotters blocked roads and bombed state institutions, including the parliament, before the attempted takeover was thwarted with the help of citizens resisting putschist soldiers on the streets.

At least 250 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured during the bloody coup attempt. Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based preacher, is accused by Ankara of orchestrating the coup.

Millions of Turks flocked on Saturday to the streets and squares to participate in the so-called "democracy watches," which will last until midnight of Sunday, to mark the anniversary of the failed coup attempt.

In Ankara, tens of thousands of people gathered at the city center square of Kizilay, carrying Turkish national flags and pictures of those killed during the attempted putsch.

Strict security measures were taken around the city center squares and streets, with several police helicopters patrolling over the area.

Similar events were also held in Istanbul, the biggest city of Turkey, and many other cities across the country.

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