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Turkey removes around 800 more police officers

The Turkish government on Thursday fired or reassigned some 800 police officers as it pressed on with a purge of the country's police force in response to a high-level graft probe, local media said.

ANKARA: The Turkish government on Thursday fired or reassigned some 800 police officers as it pressed on with a purge of the country's police force in response to a high-level graft probe, local media said.

Senior officers were among those removed from their posts in the latest wave of sackings in the capital Ankara and the western port of Izmir, the Hurriyet and Milliyet newspapers said on their websites.

More than 500 police officers were removed in Ankara and another 274 in Izmir, they said.

The Turkish media estimate that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-leaning government has now sanctioned some 6,000 police nationwide, including top officers, in apparent retaliation for a corruption investigation that has struck at the heart of the political elite.

Since the graft scandal erupted in mid-December, dozens of prosecutors -- including senior lawyers involved in the investigations -- alleged money laundering, gold smuggling and bribery, have also been sacked.

Erdogan accuses supporters of exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally who wields considerable influence in the judiciary and police, of launching the investigation as part of a "coup plot" against his government in a crucial election year.

But Erdogan's purges, coupled with legislation aimed at increasing government control on the judiciary and the Internet, have raised deep concern at home and abroad about the state of democracy in the majority Muslim country.

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