As Turkey prepares to commemorate those who died resisting the July 15 coup attempt, carried out by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in 2016, the painful memory of 51 police officers killed by the putschists at Ankara's Gölbaşı Police Special Forces Headquarters still haunts their brothers in arms. Department heads of the special forces remembered the incident with great sorrow. "They became martyrs and I became a witness," says Kasım Biner, 55, of the special forces command.
Biner rushed to the HQ when he was informed about the coup attempt. When the first bomb hit, he was also in the building and was wounded. "The bomb was dropped near me. I was wounded and suffered 80 percent hearing loss," he said.
On the night of July 15, 2016, putschists at the Akıncı Air Base near Ankara, ordered deadly attacks on the special forces HQ and the Police Aerial Services Bureau, killing 51 police officers. The coup plotters have been charged with crimes that carry life imprisonment.
"We are professionals but we never had 44 martyrs at once. I couldn't forget the voices of my friends in flames," Biner said. He stressed that FETÖ started to lose its grip on the police forces after the failure of the Dec. 17-25, 2013, judicial coup attempt. "The HQ was bombed because coup plotters knew that the police forces would stand against the coup," he said.
The FETÖ-led Dec. 17-25 operations, the so-called "corruption inquiry," was a plot perpetrated by the terrorist group to topple the democratically-elected government.
Mehmet Açıkdaş, 46, a member of the police special forces, said he tried to carry his wounded friends to hospitals that night. He added that the Turkish people owe a lot to the "martyrs" of July 15.
Another member of the police special forces, Orhan Petek, said he was hurled 50 meters after a bomb hit the HQ. "I was trying to carry my wounded friends but I was injured too. I had a lot of internal bleeding," Petek said. "My son was also wounded but I did not know. When I woke up, I realized that. We became veterans as father and son," he added.
Head of the aviation department, Uygar Elmastaşı said he realized that something was wrong before the coup attempt because of the irregular announcements from police radio. "When I saw fighter jets flying over the presidency, I understood that it was a coup attempt. I immediately called in all personnel for duty. Then we were shaken by a huge explosion at 11:08 p.m.," he said. Seven police officers were killed at the Police Aerial Services Bureau while making fuel delivery.