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5 Aug, 2016 02:20

Erdogan cheated death when coup pilot chasing him ran out of fuel – state media

Erdogan cheated death when coup pilot chasing him ran out of fuel – state media

The rebel pilot of an F-16 that had the Turkish president’s plane in its sights failed to strike only because the fighter jet ran out of fuel and had to change route, thus saving Erdogan’s life during the coup attempt, the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper claims.

The F-16 tracked Erdogan’s plane on its radar, but couldn’t approach close enough to fire as its fuel was reportedly running low, forcing the pilot to abort the mission, according to Yeni Safak. The reason why the F-16 didn’t fire had remained unknown until recently, with a former military officer familiar with the events cited by Reuters as saying it was “a mystery.”

“At least two F-16s harassed Erdogan’s plane while it was in the air and en route to Istanbul,” the officer noted.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan managed to cheat death twice overnight on June 15, Yeni Safak claims. Erdogan left the hotel in the resort town of Marmaris where he was on family holiday just “minutes” before an assassination squad came after him and then he evaded death in the air.

President Erdogan’s Gulfstream IV TC-ATA was prepared for the flight in utmost secrecy, with no flight information revealed.

The Turkish leader was on his way to Istanbul, but had to temporarily change its flyway to the city of Izmir until it was safe to land at the initial destination point. His plane reached the city unscathed before daybreak on Saturday on July 16.

The unplanned changes in his route were previously explained by “trouble in the air,” as a high-ranking official put it, according to Reuters.

The coup plotters reportedly had bombed places in the resort town of Marmaris after he left, Erdogan said, according to Reuters. Around 25 assassinators dispatched to the area from a helicopter in an effort to seize and probably kill the Turkish president.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim allegedly was also targeted in Istanbul during the coup attempt but managed to escape.

The failed coup took place in Turkey on July 15 and was suppressed the following day. Nearly 250 people were killed while more than 2,000 suffered injuries, not counting the casualties among the plotters, according to Turkey’s authorities.