Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced a corruption inquiry as a “dirty operation” against his government.
Some 52 people – including three sons of cabinet ministers – were arrested in dawn raids on Tuesday in connection with a high-profile bribery inquiry.
Five police chiefs who oversaw raids in Istanbul and Ankara were sacked for “abuse of office”, Mr Erdogan said.
“We will not allow political plotting,” the prime minister said.
Commentators in Turkey believe the arrests – and subsequent firings – are evidence of a new dramatic fault-line in Turkish politics, one within the AK Party itself, the BBC’s James Reynolds reports.
The feud is believed to involve supporters of Fethullah Gulen, an influential Islamic scholar living in exile in the US who once backed the ruling AK Party, helping it to victory in three elections since 2002.
Members of Mr Gulen’s Hizmet movement are said to hold influential positions in institutions from the police and secret services to the judiciary and the AK Party itself.
In recent months, the alliance began to come apart and in November the government discussed closing down private schools, including those run by Hizmet.
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