Turkey purged hundreds of police and launched an investigation into prosecutors Tuesday in the latest twist in a vast corruption scandal that has rocked Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

A government decree published at midnight announced the sacking of 350 police officers in Ankara, including chiefs of the financial crimes, anti-smuggling, cyber crime and organised crime units, media reports said.

Turkey’s top judicial body, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), also Tuesday launched an investigation into the newly appointed Istanbul police chief and a number of the city’s top prosecutors.

The moves came as the government battled to contain the fallout from the graft probe that has become the biggest threat to Erdogan’s 11-year rule ahead of local elections in March.

Turkey policemen: over 350 sacked for corruption

Turkey policemen: over 350 sacked for corruption

Erdogan has branded the investigation a “dirty” plot to try to topple his government, blaming supporters of a powerful exiled Muslim cleric who wields considerable influence in the police and judiciary.

Dozens of leading businessmen and political figures — including the sons of three ministers — were rounded up in a massive anti-graft sweep in Ankara and Istanbul in December.

The once-unassailable Turkish strongman responded by sacking hundreds of police officials across the country, including the powerful Istanbul police chief.

PM Erdogan

PM Erdogan

The political uncertainty has added to pressures on the already volatile economy, with the national currency plunging to all-time lows as investors become spooked.

Erdogan’s critics accuse him of desperately trying to protect his cronies, and the appointment of Selami Altinok, a little-known governor with no background in police work, as Istanbul’s new police chief was further seen as an attempt to shut down the graft investigation.

‘Probe into alleged misconduct’

The HSYK, which appoints senior members of the judiciary, will investigate allegations that the new Istanbul police chief was blocking prosecutors from carrying out further arrests, as well as alleged misconduct by prosecutors.

With the latest round of dismissals, the total number of police officers removed from their posts has risen to 560 in Ankara alone, according to media reports.

Prominent prosecutor Muammer Akkas was also barred last month from expanding the investigation — which could also reportedly target Erdogan’s son Bilal — over allegations he leaked information to the media.