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AFP

Three Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris hit

Paris Kurdish institute

Three Kurdish women, said to include a founding member of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), were shot dead overnight Thursday in Paris in what France's interior minister dubbed an "assassination."

The women were found in the early hours with gunshot wounds to the head inside a Kurdish information center in the 10th district of the French capital, police and the center's director said.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls visited the scene of the crime and described the killings as "assassinations."

The murders came after Turkish media reported Wednesday that the Turkish government and jailed Kurd rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan had agreed on a roadmap to end a three-decade-old insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

One of the dead in the Paris center was Sakine Cansiz, said the Federation of Kurdish Associations in France, which described her as a founding member of the PKK, which is fighting for greater Kurdish autonomy.

A second was said to be 32-year-old Fidan Dogan, an employee of the information center, who was also the Paris representative of the Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress political group.

The third was Leyla Soylemez, described by the federation as a "young activist."

The three were last seen alive midday on Wednesday at the center, according to the centre's director, Leon Edart.

Friends and colleagues who tried and failed to contact them eventually went to the center and found traces of blood on the door, which they then forced open to find the bodies of the three inside, the Kurdish federation said.

Hundreds of Kurds gathered Thursday in front of the center to protest at the deaths, with some of them chanting "We are all PKK!" and "Turkey assassin, Hollande complicit," referring to French President Francois Hollande.

Around 45,000 people are believed to have been killed in the fighting between Turkish security forces and the rebels, who took up arms in 1984 under Ocalan's command, to obtain self-rule in the Kurdish-majority southeast.

Previous peace talks floundered after the PKK leadership demanded the release of Ocalan.

Activists gather outside the Kurdish Cultural Institute in Paris on Thursday following the murder of three Kurdish women. (AFP/Miguel Medina)

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls described the killings as "assassinations."