PARIS Three Kurdish women said to include a founding member of the PKK militant group were shot dead overnight in Paris in killings that appeared politically motivated, police and other sources said on Thursday.
The bodies of the women were found early on Thursday at the Information Centre of Kurdistan in the city centre, a police source said.
An employee of the centre, which has close links to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), told French broadcaster i<Tele that one of the dead was a founding member of the group, which is fighting for greater Kurdish autonomy.
The Firat news agency, which is close to the PKK, said another victim was the Paris representative of the Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress political group.
"There is no doubt this was politically motivated," Berivan Akyol, the centre employee, told i<Tele.
Police launched a murder investigation after discovering the bodies, along with three shell casings, in a room of the Centre in central Paris, the source said, adding that their nationality was Turkish.
The PKK has waged a 28-year insurgency against the Turkish state in which more than 40,000 people are estimated to have been killed.
The Turkish government has recently acknowledged holding talks with the organisation's jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan.
They have agreed a framework for a peace plan, according to Turkish media reports.
Firat said two of those killed were shot in the head and one in the stomach, and that the murder weapon was believed to have been fitted with a silencer.
"A couple of colleagues saw blood stains at the door. When they broke the door open and entered they saw the three women had been executed," French Kurdish Associations Federation Chairman Mehmet Ulker was reported as saying by Firat.
Turkish broadcasters reported police as saying the women had links to the PKK and could have been the victims of executions conducted within the group.
The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.
(Reporting By Nicolas Bertin, Nicholas Vinocur, additional reporting by Daren Butler in Istanbul; Writing by Nick Vinocur; Editing by John Stonestreet)
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