The Turkish military, apparently seeking to end widespread political violence, seized power early today, overthrowing the government of Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel, Turkish radio announced.
The announcement said the constitution had been suspended, the Turkish parliament abolished and members of parliament deprived of their immunity from prosecution.
In Washington, the State Department confirmed the coup. "There has been a takeover of government of Turkey by the military," State Department spokeswoman Sondra McCarty said. Although few details about the events in Turkey were available, she said Americans there wee reported safe.
The military overthrow of the Demirel government was reported at about 4 a.m. (9 p.m. EDT), she said. Demirel had been in power since October.
The Turkish Army moved into the streets in predawn darkness, taking over government buildings and communication facilities, but there were no reports of violence or of opposition to the takeover.
Turkish radio announced that the military chief of staff, Gen. Kenan Evren, took over the administration and that a Turkish national security council formed by four military commanders would run the country.
The announcement said that the commander of the Turkish Army in the Aegean, Haydar Saltik, was appointed as general secretary of the council.
The radio said 118 top government officials were arrested and taken to Istanbul. There was no word on the fate of Demirel and members of his Justice Party.
Earlier in the evening, military sources in Ankara said the country's top Army, Navy and Air Force commanders were holding an unscheduled meeting that extended into the early morning hours Friday.
The sources said they believed the military chiefs were discussing NATO military exercise that began Thursday in western Turkey.
Turkey armed forces have intervened in politics twice before in the 56-year history of the republic. In each case, the military handed power back to civilians relatively quickly.
About 2,000 people have died in political and religious violence in Turkey since Demiral came to power, succeeding prime minister Bulent Ecevit, who lost his majority in parliament following heavy losses in a midterm election.
Turkey's military leaders warned civilian organizations last January of the prospect of military intervention in the political life of the country.
At the time, Evren and commanders of the Army, Navy Air Force and Gendarmerie criticized political parties for their bickering and for allegedly placing partisan interests before national ones.
The generals also said the Turkish people had no more tolerance for advocates of Islamic revivalism or neofascism.
The coup came just four days after Turkey's Moslem fundamentist party ousted Foreign Minister Hayrettin Erkmen and criticized Turkish foreign policy for its interest in joining the European Economic Community, for failing to break ties with Israel and for failing to support revolutionary Iran.
A Turkish Embassy spokesman said in Washington there was "no violence, no resistance" to the coup. The spokesman said the embassy had no reports on the whereabouts of ousted Prime Minister Demiral. The duties of Demirel and the parliament "have been taken over by the armed forces," he said.
The spokesman said while no official communication has been received from Ankara, "the news reaching us is that the Turkish armed forces under Gen. Evren took over the administration.
"The first communication issued by the Turkish National Security Council is to the effect that in order to preserve the immunity of life and property of the citizens, in order to stand against anti-Kemalist principles -- which covers the extreme left as well as the extreme right -- the armed forces took jurisdiction," the spokesman said.
He said "anti-Kemalist" refers to principles of the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk.
Turkey, a nation of more than 43 million people, is strategically located to the south of the Soviet Union, separating that country from the Mediteranean. It also borders Iran, Iraq, Syria, Greece and Bulgaria.
Last March, Turkey and the United States signed a new defense cooperation agreement after five years of strained relations.
The agreement provided for the reopening of a dozen U.S. military bases in Turkey that had been closed in retaliation for a U.S. arms embargo after Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974. Many of the bases have been used to eavesdrop on the Soviet naval and nuclear activities across the Black Sea.
The Turkish government has been trying to act as a "middle man" to secure the release of the U.S. hostages being held in Iran.
Turkey has a majority of Sunnites and a minority of Shiites, both Moslem sects. The Shiite sect is in power in Iran.