ANKARA - The Turkish police have launched raids to detain over 300 people suspected of having ties to an outlawed group believed to be responsible for a 2016 coup bid, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said.

The order to arrest 324 people on Tuesday was made by prosecutors in Turkey’s three biggest provinces of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir and is part of different probes into followers of US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey accuses Gulen of ordering the abortive bid to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 15, 2016. Gulen denies any involvement in the failed coup.

The Istanbul public prosecutor sought the arrest of 53 active duty soldiers in 15 provinces, including in the metropolis, Anadolu reported.

In the Aegean province of Izmir, the public prosecutor issued 182 arrest warrants with police conducting raids across 42 provinces, including Izmir, DHA reported.

The capital’s public prosecutor said it issued 89 arrest warrants in two separate probes, including one looking at the gendarmerie, which is in charge of domestic security. The Ankara prosecutor’s office said 30 suspects had already been detained.

More than 760 people were detained last week in operations across 76 provinces of Turkey’s 81 provinces, although 122 suspects were later freed under judicial supervision.

As many as 16 other suspects were released, according to the Ankara public prosecutor’s office. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested over suspected links to Gulen since 2016. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended from the public sector.

Despite criticism from Western allies and human rights defenders over the scale of the crackdown, the police operations and probes continue with rigour. Turkish officials insist that the raids are necessary to remove the “virus” caused by the Gulen movement’s infiltration of Turkish state bodies.