PARIS (AP) — Three Kurdish women, including one of the founders of a militant group battling Turkish troops since 1984, were "executed" at a Kurdish center in Paris, the interior minister said Thursday. The news prompted angry crowds of Kurds to flood into the area.
It was not immediately clear who killed the women, who belonged to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, a group that Turkey and its Western allies, including the United States and the European Union, consider a terrorist organization.
The slayings came as Turkey was holding peace talks with the group to try to persuade it to disarm. A Turkish lawmaker claimed the women were slain in a dispute between PKK factions, while some Kurdish protesters and a Kurdish lawmaker in Turkey claimed the Turkish government was involved.
Turkey's Anadolu news agency identified one of the victims as Sakine Cansiz, a founding member of the PKK.
The conflict between the PKK and Turkish troops has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984, when the rebels — who are seeking self-rule for Kurds in southeast Turkey — took up arms.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who visited the pro-Kurdish center in Paris where the bodies were found, said the deaths were "without doubt an execution." He called it a "totally intolerable act."
RTL radio reported that all three women were shot in the head, but French police would not immediately confirm the report.
Emotions mounted as hundreds of Kurds filled the street in Paris outside the Kurdistan Information Center. Police erected barricades to try to contain the crowd. Some people waved Kurdish flags while others chanted angrily against the Turkish government.
An online site for Kurdish youth called on all Kurds and "friends of Kurds to come to Paris." The site, jeunessekurde.fr, showed three photos of the slain women. It identified the other two as Fidan Dogan, who reportedly was chief of the information center, and Leyla Soylemez.