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France and Turkey condemn killings of Kurdish activists

France and Turkey condemn killings of Kurdish activists
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France and Turkey have condemned the killing of three female Kurdish activists in Paris.

Kurds turned out in anger after the women’s bodies were found shot in the head in a Kurdish centre.

One of the victims, Sakine Cansiz, is a founder member of the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK, an armed separatist group which has waged a 28-year insurgency against the Turkish state.

The murders come at a sensitive time as Turkey has recently admitted to holding talks with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, with a view to ending the conflict.

The Kurdish institute in Paris, the scene of the murders, has close links to the PKK which is deemed a terrorist group by the EU and the US.

The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls identified one of the victims as the head of the centre. A murder investigation involving homicide and anti-terrorism units is underway.

Residents and people working nearby are shocked. “This barbaric, savage crime is unspeakable. We are shattered. I think someone wanted above all to attack symbols,” said lawyer Seve Aydin-Izouli.

“For 20 years we’ve been working here in Kurdish associations in France, and we have never been attacked in such a ferocious way, in such a busy street. There are lots of questions to answer,” said Eyyüp Doru of the Party for Peace and Democracy in Turkey.

Staff members at the centre said the murders were politically motivated.

Euronews correspondent Giovanni Magi at the scene said: “The 10th district of Paris houses a very large Kurdish community, which numbers nearly 150,000 people in France. It’s a community profoundly shocked by this extremly violent act.”

The PKK is fighting for greater Kurdish autonomy in the Turkish southeast and many Turks fear such autonomy could stoke demands for an independent Kurdish homeland and undermine Turkey.