About 2 million people visited the grave of Ömer Halisdemir, an officer who became a symbol of resistance against last year's July 15 coup bid. Halisdemir was shot dead by putschists after he killed a key figure of the coup plotters in an act of gallantry that ultimately derailed the putschists' plans.
The grave of the 42-year-old noncommissioned officer, interred in his hometown Çukurkuyu in central Turkey, is now one of the most-visited sites in Turkey with people flocking to pay their respects.
Çukurkuyu Mayor İleri Koçak told reporters that though they do not register the number of visitors they estimate some 250,000 people visited the grave alone last week, ahead of the anniversary of the putsch bid blamed on army infiltrators of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
"Some people come as groups in minibuses, buses and others drive here from all across Turkey. We had a large number of visitors even in winter, when snowfall limited access to the grave," he said.
"They simply recite prayers and leave. You can see how our nation is devoted to someone like Halisdemir. He is an exemplary person," Koçak said, noting that most visitors were young people.
Halisdemir, an aide to Gen. Zekai Aksakallı, the head of the Army's elite Special Forces command, was stationed at the Special Forces headquarters on July 15, 2016. Aksakallı was outside and had dodged an attempt to abduct him by putschists. Finding out about the coup attempt and suspects involved, Aksakallı telephoned Halisdemir and told him to take out Gen. Semih Terzi, a putschist commander who flew in from southeastern Turkey to take over command at Special Forces for the coup plotters.
"He simply said 'yes, sir'" Aksakallı would later recount the last words Halisdemir said to him in their phone call.
Showing up at the entrance of the headquarters armed only with a pistol, Halisdemir fired shots that would kill Terzi. Pro-coup troops accompanying Terzi immediately responded with a barrage of gunshots and Halisdemir died on the spot.
Their plan to capture Special Forces, a key unit of military, was thrown into disarray. The putschists were frustrated and ultimately turned themselves in as other anti-coup officers closed in on them.
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