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Asia-Pacific

Turkish PM Erdogan demands Hollande explains meetings with murdered Kurdish activist

media Kurdish women on the demonstration outside Paris's Gare de l'Est on Saturday Reuters/Christian Hartmann

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tauuip Erdogan challenged French President François Hollande to explain why he had “regularly” met one of the three Kurdish activists killed this week in Paris. Thousands of Kurds from all over Europe demonstrated in the French capital on Saturday, many accusing France of complicity in the slayings.

"France must immediately clarify” the killings, Erdogan said on Turkish television and he went on to demand that Hollande explain why he is “in communication with these terrorists".

Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez were found dead on Thursday at the Kurdistan Information Centre in the French capital's 10th district

Hollande said the murder of was "terrible", adding that he knew one of the Kurdish women and that she "regularly met us".

Cansiz was a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which took up arms in 1984 for Kurdish self-rule in south-eastern Turkey.

Ankara considers it a “terrorist” organisation, as do the US and the European Union.

"How can he regularly meet with these people who are members of a group listed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and who are wanted under red bulletin [issued by Interpol]?" Erdogan asked.

Cansiz was arrested in Germany in November 2012 but released despite a Turkish demand that she be extradited, Erdogan said, adding that Ankara had told France that she was in Paris but that it had taken no action on the matter.

Turkish intelligence has launched its own inquiry into the execution-style killings, according to the English-language Hurriyet Daily News, which also reports that the bodies will be shipped back to Turkey for burial and that Cansiz attended peace talks in Oslo.

The PKK has also demanded that France solve the mystery of the killings, saying that it would hold the French state responsible if it failed to do so.

Kurdish groups echoed the call in leaflets on the Paris demonstration.

Erdogan on Saturday repeated government claims that the killings were carried out by PKK members, hinting that it could have been aimed at sabotaging a tentative peace deal reached with the organisation’s jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

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