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Kurdish activists killed in Paris were shot in head as mystery of executions grows

Police investigate theory that Kurdish women shot in the head brought killers to their offices

Three Kurdish activists assassinated in Paris were each shot several times in the head, it has emerged.

The three women - including a founder member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Kurdish separatist movement - were wearing outdoor coats as if they had just returned to their office or were about to leave.

French investigators have not excluded the possibility that their killer, or killers, arrived in the company of one or more of the victims at a Kurdish “information office” near the Gare du Nord. This would reinforce the theory – advanced once again by the Turkish government – that the attack was motivated by faction-fighting within the PKK.

But the French investigation is also looking at the possibility that the three women were targeted by an extreme Turkish nationalist movement, possibly associated with shadowy forces within the Turkish state. It was reported in the Turkish press on Wednesday – the day of the killings – that Ankara had reached outline agreement with the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan to end the 30 years old conflict in south eastern Turkey which has cost an estimated 40,000 lives.

Kurdish separatist leaders yesterday dismissed talk of an “internal split” and blamed the so-called “deep state”, a network of Turkish officials and senior military officers said to be opposed to any form of Kurdish autonomy. 

The French investigation is also looking at the possibility that the attack was a robbery or a dispute about money. Although the womens’ handbags were untouched, the Kurdish separatist movement is known to raise hundreds of thousands of Euros a year from its 150,000 strong diaspora in France. According to Le Monde, there are 21 criminal investigations in progress into alleged extortion of money for political purposes from Kurds and Kurdish businesses in France.

The three victims have been named as Sakine Cansiz, 55, a founder member of the PKK living in Europe;  Fidan Dogan, 28, president of a Kurdish lobby group, based in Strasbourg; and Leyla Soylemez, a young Kurdish activist, living in Germany. None of the three women lived full time in Paris.

Police found a neatly packed suitcase in offices of the Kurdish Information Centre on the first floor of a residential building.