Turkish intel probes PKK killings in Paris

Turkish intel probes PKK killings in Paris

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish intel probes PKK killings in Paris

Members of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and other political groups march in central Istanbul to protest the murder of three Kurds in Paris. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has commenced an investigation into the killings of three Kurdish female militants in Paris, according to sources in the spy agency.

“The relevant unit of the organization is investigating the incidents. We have to wait a couple of days to get a clearer picture,” a source from MİT told the Hürriyet Daily News on Jan. 11. The organization is closely following the aftermath of the killings, but the source declined to comment on whether the agency is seeking to exchange information with the French secret service over the incident. “The organization has different methods in tackling the issue.”

Sakine Cansız, one of the founding members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK); Fidan Doğan, the Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress’ (KNK) Paris representative; and Kurdish activist Leyla Söylemez were murdered on Jan. 9 in an execution-style hit just as the Turkish government has launched a new round of talks with the PKK’s imprisoned chief, Abdullah Öcalan. The three were found dead in the office of the Kurdistan Information Center on Rue Lafayette in Paris next to the Gare de Nord. They were all shot in the head.

According to the source, a more mature assessment of the incident depends on the intelligence to be gathered.

“There are so many things we are reading in the media. An internal feud is among the possibilities and could be linked to the İmralı process,” the source said, while underlining that this was not yet MİT’s final assessment. “We need a few days to see the real picture.”

Media reports described Cansız as one of the senior PKK members responsible for raising money in the name of the organization. French police had intensified its raids on PKK-linked bureaus and arrested a number of militants in the recent past. There are reportedly 21 ongoing investigations into potentially illegal fundraising activities by the PKK. The three women might have been victims of an internal dispute over money, according to French media.

PM: Seems to be internal feud in PKK

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has, meanwhile, speculated that the killings in the French capital could have been part of an internal issue inside the PKK based on the fact that the office’s door could only be opened with a code or by those inside the building.

“The building in which murders took place had been locked from the inside with a cipher lock. Those who did not know the code of the lock could not have opened the door. The three must have opened the door. And they would not have opened the door to somebody they did not know,” he said, while also suggesting that the likelihood that the women were killed by the PKK was growing.

“Steps taken with good intentions have always been foiled in the past by malicious ones. Here, [the killings] may be a result of an internal settling [within the PKK] or it may be a step toward interrupting these well-intentioned steps on our part,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying by Anatolia news agency while en route from Dakar to Istanbul on Jan. 11. Erdoğan also said everyone should wait for the results of the probe.

Hinting at divisions within the PKK, Erdoğan referred to a news story released by Fırat news agency, which is known for its close ties with the PKK, that said a faction within the group did not support the recent peace process and had urged the organization to do something to cause the talks to break down.

The murders took place at a time when hopes for a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the PKK and security forces has been rising after the government recently acknowledged the existence of negotiations with Öcalan and after two lawmakers met with him on İmralı island, where he is serving a life sentence.

President Abdullah Gül, meanwhile, said it was too early to comment on the issue.

“We need a couple of days to learn what happened behind the curtain,” Gül said Jan. 11 during a visit to the inner Aegean province of Uşak, adding that all the comments on the murders were based on mere conjecture. “Our relevant institutions will inform us within a couple of days about what happened and how it occurred. But whatever we say at the moment will not go beyond guesses.”