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French police detain two Kurds over killings

Thousands of people follow the coffin of late Kurdish activist Sakine Cansiz, during her funeral on January 18, 2013
Thousands of people follow the coffin of late Kurdish activist Sakine Cansiz, shot dead in the French capital, during the funeral on January 18, 2013 in Tunceli, her hometown in the Kurdish majority southeast of Turkey. French police have detained two men

French police have detained two men in connection with the killings of three female Kurdish activists in Paris last week, judicial and police sources told AFP on Friday.

The two men are both ethnic Kurds, born in Turkey in 1974 and 1982, and one of them is thought to have been a driver for one of the victims, a police source said, describing the arrests as the product of "significant leads".

The two men were arrested during the day on Thursday, a judicial source said, the same day thousands of Kurds gathered in Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakir for the funerals of the three activists.

The judicial source provided no other details on the reasons the two men were detained or what role, if any, they are suspected of having played in the killings.

The three women, one of them 55-year-old Sakine Cansiz, a co-founder of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), were found shot execution-style at a Kurdish centre in Paris on January 10.

The Paris killings came amid nascent peace talks between Turkish secret services and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan with the aim of disarming the group, branded as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community.

The PKK took up arms for self-rule in the Kurdish-majority southeast in a conflict that has claimed 45,000 lives, mostly Kurds.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has speculated the killings could be the result of an "internal feud" within the PKK aimed at sabotaging the talks, recalling that the separatist group has carried out similar executions in the past.

French police have also indicated that they are looking into whether the killings could have been linked to disputes over the proceeds of extortion rackets used to raise funds for the PKK.

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