France’s Kurdish Community Mourn Slaying of Three Women

Posted January 11th, 2013 at 10:40 am (UTC-5)
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Hundreds of Kurds have gathered outside a Kurdish information center in Paris to mourn the loss of three women slain execution-style.

French police discovered the bodies of the women inside the center on Thursday. One of the victims has been identified as Sakine Cansiz, a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

All three women had been shot in the head. Some of the grieving mourners outside the center laid flowers to pay their respects.

As the investigation continues, Kurds and Turks are exchanging blame.

On Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the shooting was most likely the result of an internal feud among the Kurds, noting that the building required an access code to unlock the door.

Earlier, Turkish officials said the slayings could also be aimed at derailing peace talks between Ankara and the PKK's jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan. The PKK has been fighting for greater autonomy in Turkey for nearly three decades.

Kurdish protesters have accused the Turkish government of orchestrating the attacks, while others are blaming Turkish extremists. Police in France say they have opened a murder investigation.

The deaths come as talks to end the 28-year Kurdish insurgency are reported to be in the beginning stages, with officials in Turkey confirming they recently held talks with the jailed rebel leader.

The second woman killed in Paris was 32-year-old Frida Dogan, an employee at the information center and the Paris representative of the Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress. The third victim was Leyla Soylemez who has been described as a “young activist.”

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls visited the scene of the crime Thursday and called the attack an assassination.

“I came here, to this neighborhood where three women were slain, killed, doubtless executed. This is a very grave matter and this explains my presence. This is unacceptable. The investigation is only starting under the authority of the prosecutor's office and the anti-terrorist forces are involved to shed all possible light on this unacceptable act.”

Kurdish protesters gathered at the scene Thursday, chanting slogans accusing the Turkish government of killing the women and accusing French President Francois Hollande of complying.

The PKK took up arms in 1984 for Kurdish-self rule in southeastern Turkey, and is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara and most of the international community.