Hundreds of Kurds have gathered to protest the killings of three women activists in Paris, who were the victims of a politically-motivated "execution", according to France's interior minister.
The three women, including Sakine Cansiz, a founding member of the PKK, or Kurdish Workers Party, were killed at a Kurdish Centre in Paris. The European Union, the US and Turkey consider the PKK a terrorist organisation.
It was not immediately clear who killed the women. AP reported that French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who visited the pro-Kurdish centre in Paris where the bodies were found, said the deaths were "without doubt an execution" and a "totally intolerable act".
Kurdish people react as the bodies of the women are taken out of the building in Paris
The conflict between the PKK and Turkish troops has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984, sparked by Kurdish rebels seeking independence.
French police have not yet made any arrests and would not confirm how the women were killed, but it is believed they were shot in the head, RTL radio reported.
Kurdish campaign groups and youth activists called on Kurds to "come to Paris" to protest.
Around 140,000 Kurds live in France, and many have gathered outside the centre in Paris, with flags and placards, one of which said "Turkey Murders - Hollande Is Complicit".
Several hundreds Turkish Kurds gathered to protest the killings in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir.
Kurdish youth campaign site, jeunessekurde.fr, identified the other two women killed as Fidan Dogan, who reportedly was chief of the information centre, and the third as Leyla Soylemez, a junior activist.
Several hundred Turkish Kurds, including lawmakers Sebahat Tuncel, left, and Gultan Kisanak, centre, gather to protest the killings
Media, politicians and campaigners have variously pinned blame on the Turkish government and on a potential internal assassination in the PKK.
Police and firemen reached the bodies about 1:30 am on Thursday, a police official told The Associated Press.
Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of a Kurdish political party in Turkey's parliament, said in a statement: "We want it to be known that that these assassinations which were carried out in the busiest area of Paris cannot be covered up."
Gultan Kisanak, a joint leader of the Kurdish political Party, Peace and Democracy Party, paid tribute to Cansiz: "She was a hero and true revolutionary who would not even waste a minute for the good of the Kurdish women.
"This is a trap placed on the path to a solution of the Kurdish problem, it is a political assassination.
"How dare they present the murder of a revolutionary on internal strife without any evidence?"
This combination photo provided by the Kurdish Cultural centre in Paris shows the three victims Fidan Dogan, left, Sakine Cansiz, center, and Leyla Soylemez
Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Programme Director John Dalhuisen said in a statement: “There must be justice for these apparently political killings – no stone must be left unturned in the investigation by the French authorities.
“The Turkish authorities must cooperate fully in the investigation to bring those responsible to justice.
“Both sides must ensure that the killings do not derail negotiations aimed at ending the decades long conflict and on-going human rights abuses.”
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