Three members of a Turkish separatist group were found dead in Paris this morning in what police say was a politically motivated execution. The three women, including Sakine Cansiz, one of the co-founders of the Kurdistan Workers Party (or PKK), were shot dead at the Kurdish Institute of Paris, where they were discovered by an institute worker on Thursday morning. Hundreds of members of the local Kurdish community demonstrated outside the center after news of the murders broke, with many blaming Turkey's government for the deaths.
The PKK is a violent revolutionary group founded in the late 1970s that seeks to establish an independent Kurdish state in Southern Turkey and Northern Iraq, but has been declared a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States. There are various estimates of the number of militants, soldiers, and Turkish civilians killed during the decades long conflict, but some put the number as high as 40,000. Their leader and co-founder Abdullah Ocalan is currently in prison in Turkey, but has reportedly been holding informal peace talks with the Turkish government.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls visited the crime scene on Thursday and called the killings "intolerable." All three women were shot in the head, and one news report suggested that the killer used a silencer, leaving the neighbors unaware of any disturbance. No suspects have identified, nor is it clear, who among the PKK's rivals and enemies would carry out such an assassination. Turkish leaders even speculated that the attack could have been the result of an internal dispute, but offered no proof for the assertion.