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Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris

category france / belgium / luxemburg | miscellaneous | non-anarchist press author Thursday January 10, 2013 23:59author by The Guardian Report this post to the editors

Three Kurdish women activists have been found dead with bullet wounds to the neck and chest in the Kurdistan information centre in Paris.

Three Kurdish women activists have been found dead with bullet wounds to the neck and chest in the Kurdistan information centre in Paris.

One of the women found in the early hours of Thursday was said to be Sakine Cansiz, a co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK).

Officials in Turkey are currently holding talks with the PKK's jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan, to persuade the group to disarm. The decades-long conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK has killed about 40,000 people since the 1980s.

Another victim of the Paris shootings, Fidan Dogan, was part of the Kurdistan National Congress, based in Brussels. The third was a young activist.

Kurdish groups in Turkey said that the murders could be part of an attempt to sabotage peace talks. Mehmet Ali Ertas, an activist and journalist at the pro-Kurdish news agency DIHA in Diyarbakir, said: "These murders happened during a pivotal moment. Military operations [against the PKK] and the talks [with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan] are both ongoing.

"It looks like someone is trying to impede on the possibility of a peace process, like someone wants to create chaos."

Ihsan Kaçar, head of the Istanbul Human Rights Association said the murders could have been an attempt to undermine the positive reaction in Turkey to the nascent peace process. "I was very hopeful about the talks with Öcalan, but after reading about the killings in Paris, these hopes have been shattered."

The bodies were discovered on the first floor of the building in Paris's 10th arrondissement just before 2am after one woman's partner, concerned he could not contact her, called police.

The French interior minister, Manuel Valls, was at the scene and described the killings as intolerable and unacceptable. He said French anti-terror police would help with the inquiry. French police sources told reporters that the crime scene suggested "an execution", but the circumstances and motive remain unclear.

"The only certainty for the moment is that this is a triple homicide," a French police spokesperson told TF1 news.

The shooting was believed to have taken place late on Wednesday afternoon, but the bodies were not discovered until the early hours of Thursday morning.

The building where the women were found was said to have housed an office of the Kurdistan information centre of Paris, though there was no door plaque identifying the building, situated between a Bengali grocer and a mobile phone shop on a busy street near Paris's Gare du Nord. The blinds and net curtains of the first floor windows were closed and riot police guarded the door.

At midday around 200 Kurdish protesters gathered outside the building with flags of Öcalan, shouting "We are all the PKK". One 25-year-old protester, who said his parents were political activists, said: "The community is in shock. We all knew these women.

"There are so many Kurdish political refugees in France. If we can't feel safe here where can we feel safe? This killing was clearly well organised. Unfortunately this is a dirty war. The feeling among this crowd is that this killing was done to sabotage the peace talks."

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