|Jan 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM|
FRANCE – 3 KURDISH WOMEN ACTIVISTS ASSASSINATED IN PARIS
By Laura Smith-Spark, Ivan Watson & Alexander Felton, CNN – Jan 10, 2013
Paris (CNN) – The apparent assassination of three Kurdish women political activists in central Paris on Thursday, all shot in the head, has provoked shock among the Kurdish community.
Mystery swirls around the slayings, with no claim of responsibility or any indication from authorities as to who might have pulled the trigger.
The fact that one of the women is a founding member of the Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK — a group viewed by Turkey, the United States and others as a terror organization — has led to heightened speculation.
The killings come at a delicate time for Kurds in Turkey, where analysts say the government has recently entered into talks with Kurdish leaders — among them the jailed head of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan.
Analysts suggest the attack could be an attempt to derail a nascent peace process, in what is one of the Middle East’s longest-running conflicts.
The PKK, a pan-Kurdish nationalist movement, is best known internationally for the guerrilla war it has fought for nearly three decades against the government of Turkey, a conflict that has claimed more than 40,000 lives.
The ethnic Kurdish population extends across parts of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls told reporters in Paris the three women had been “without doubt executed” and described the killings as “totally unacceptable.”
The main pro-Kurdish political party in Turkey, the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, identified the three victims as Sakine Cansiz, who was a co-founder of the PKK, Leyla Sonmez and Fidan Dogan.
Police said the women’s bodies were discovered about 2 a.m. local time in the Information Center for Kurdistan in Paris, located on a busy street behind the Gare du Nord, one of the capital’s main train stations.
Officers took evidence bags from the building, near which much of the city’s Kurdish community lives, but have released few details.
Leon Edart, of the Federation of Kurdish Associations in France, told CNN affiliate BFM-TV that the women had been alone at the site, which had no security cameras, on Wednesday afternoon.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that French authorities were determined to shed light on the murders and that a judicial inquiry had been opened.