UK & World News

  • 10 January 2013, 18:15

PKK Founder Among Three 'Executed' In Paris

Three women, including a founder member of Kurdish terrorist organisation the PKK, have been shot dead in Paris in a suspected political assassination.

The three women were found in the early hours with gunshot wounds to the head and neck, inside a Kurdish information centre in the heart of the French capital.

One of the dead was Sakine Cansiz, described by the Federation of Kurdish Associations in France as a founding member of the PKK.

The other two were 32-year-old Fidan Dogan, an employee of the centre and the Paris representative of the Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress, and Leyla Soylemez, said to be a Kurdish "activist".

The PKK has been waging a violent insurgency against the Turkish Government in order to achieve an independent state. An estimated 45,000 people have died since 1984.

On Wednesday, Turkish media announced that their country's government and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan had agreed on a roadmap to end the three-decade-old insurgency. There has been speculation that the two events were linked.

The French government condemned the killings, with French Interior Minister Manuel Valls describing them as "assassinations".

During a visit to the scene, he said: "Three women have been shot down, killed, without doubt executed. This is a very serious incident, which is why I am here. It is completely unacceptable."

He declined to speculate about a possible political motive for the crime.

French anti-terror police have opened a probe into the murders.

The killings prompted protests with hundreds of Kurds massing in front of the information centre.

Some of them were heard chanting "We are all PKK!" and "Turkey assassin, Hollande complicit", referring to French President Francois Hollande.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by much of the international community.

It has been responsible for a series of bombings on the Turkish mainland, including a number at coastal resorts and in Istanbul. Several British tourists were among those killed and injured.

There are around 150,000 Kurds in France, the vast majority of them of Turkish origin. According to the British Government there are about 200,000 in the UK.

Under the reported roadmap to peace, the Turkish government would reward a ceasefire by granting wider rights to Turkey's Kurdish minority, whose population is estimated at up to 15 million in the 75-million nation.

The Kurdish rebels also reportedly want the release of hundreds of Kurdish activists and the recognition of Kurdish identity in Turkey's new constitution.