Turkey said it had dismissed a further 10,000 civil servants and closed 15 more media outlets over suspected links with terrorist organizations and U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for orchestrating a failed coup in July.
More than 100,000 people have already been sacked or suspended and 37,000 arrested since the aborted coup in an unprecedented crackdown President Tayyip Erdogan said is crucial to wipe out the network of Gulen from the state apparatus.
Thousands of academics, teachers, health workers, prison guards and forensics experts were among the latest to be removed from their posts through two new executive decrees published in the Official Gazette late Saturday.
Opposition parties described the move as a coup in itself. The continued crackdown has also raised concerns over the functioning of the state.
"What the government and Erdogan are doing right now is a direct coup against the rule of law and democracy," Sezgin Tanrikulu, an MP from the main opposition Republican People's Party, said in a Periscope broadcast posted on Twitter.
But the Erdogan government is using the state of emergency and its executive powers to allow Ankara to crack down on the Kurdish population in the country and its parliamentary representatives of the leftist People's Democratic Party.
A Turkish court Sunday formally arrested Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, co-mayors of the largely Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir on charges of membership in a terrorist organization after five days in detention.
The local prosecutor had said Kisanak, a lawmaker before becoming Diyarbakir's first female mayor in 2014, and Anli had given speeches sympathetic to the PKK, called for greater political autonomy for Turkey's estimated 16 million Kurds and incited violent protests in 2014.
Earlier police used rubber pellets to break up several hundred protesters marching against their arrests. The internet has been largely down in the city for several days, witnesses said.
Turkey's southeast has been rocked by the worst violence in decades since the collapse last year of a cease-fire between the state and the Kurdistan Workers Party, designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The executive decrees have also ordered the closure of 15 more newspapers, newswires and magazines, which report from the largely Kurdish southeast, bringing the total number of media outlets and publishers closed since July to nearly 160.
Universities have also been stripped of their ability to elect their own rectors according to the decrees. Erdogan will from now on directly appoint the rectors from the candidates nominated by the High Educational Board. The pro-Kurdish opposition said the decrees were used as tools to establish a 'one-man regime.'
The government extended the state of emergency imposed after the coup attempt for three more months until mid-January. Erdogan said the authorities needed more time to wipe out the threat posed by Gulen's network as well as Kurdish militants who have waged a 32-year insurgency.