Turkey’s prime minister has said the fatal shooting of three Kurdish female activists in Paris appears to have been the result of an internal feud.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said evidence so far pointed to the women being killed by someone known to them, as the building where the execution-style killings occurred was secured by a coded lock and could only be opened by insiders.
But Erdogan said investigations needed to be completed before a definitive conclusion could be reached.
“Those three people opened it. No doubt they wouldn’t open it to people they didn’t know,” Erdogan told reporters on his plane returning from Senegal on Friday, according state-run Anatolian news agency.
Those killed in Thursday’s attack include Sakine Cansiz, a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that started its rebellion against the Turkish government in 1984 and is seeking self-rule.
The other two victims are 32-year-old Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez, described as a “young activist”.
The attack overshadowed peace negotiations between Turkey and the guerrillas, said commentators.
Erdogan also said the killings could also have been intended to sabotage efforts towards peace talks with the PKK.
French investigators gave no immediate indication of who might be behind the murders but police continued their search for the culprits.
The PKK has seen intermittent internal feuding during an armed campaign in the mountainous Turkish southeast that has killed some 40,000 people since 1984.
Turkish nationalist fighters have in the past also been accused of killing Kurdish activists, who want regional
autonomy. But such incidents have been confined to Turkey.
Turkey recently announced it was entering talks with Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader jailed on the small island of Imrali near Istanbul.
Hardliners in the PKK, labelled a “terrorist group” by Turkey, the US and the European Union, are likely to be sceptical about such talks.
According to media reports, the Turkish state and PKK have agreed the framework for a peace plan, which would involve
boosting Kurdish minority rights in exchange for the ultimate disarmament of the militants.
Erdogan has introduced reforms allowing Kurdish language broadcasting and other concessions on language; but activists are demanding more freedom in education and administration.
Kurdish politicians are also demanding improved prison conditions for Ocalan with a view to him being released from
jail and put under house arrest, but Erdogan played down any changes in Ocalan’s situation.
“The conditions at Imrali are better than those in any country in the world and we’re talking about special treatment,”
Erdogan said. Ocalan was able to walk daily in a courtyard with other inmates and would be given a television, he said.