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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish prosecutors ordered the detention of 140 people including serving army officers over alleged links to the U.S.-based preacher accused of orchestrating an attempted coup in 2016, the state-run Anadolu agency said on Friday.

Police launched simultaneous operations in 34 provinces across the country for 70 serving army members in a probe led by state prosecutors in the central province of Konya, Anadolu said.

It said the suspects were targeted based on statements by soldiers previously detained over ties to the cleric Fethullah Gulen and were believed to have been responsible for student houses for Gulen's movement.

In another investigation led by the Istanbul prosecutor's office, Turkish authorities captured 18 people out of 70 suspects who were sought due to links to the Gulenist network in the naval forces, Anadolu said.

The U.N. human rights office said last month Turkish authorities had detained 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil servants since the failed coup in July 2016, which Ankara blames on Gulen. He denies any involvement.

Among those detained, more than 50,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail during their trials.

Turkey's Western allies have criticised the crackdown. Critics of President Tayyip Erdogan accuse him of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkey says the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.

(Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Alison Williams and David Dolan)

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Reuters