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Paris braced for backlash over Kurd killings

Candles and flowers are seen in front of the Kurdistan Information Bureau in Paris, on January 11, 2013
Candles and flowers are seen in front of the Kurdistan Information Bureau in Paris, on January 11, 2013. Thousands of Kurds from all over Europe are expected in Paris Saturday for what is expected to be an angry protest over the killing of three female ac

Thousands of Kurds from all over Europe are expected in Paris Saturday for what is expected to be an angry protest over the killing of three female activists shot dead in the French capital.

Police have been placed on high alert and security at the Turkish embassy has been tightened ahead of the demonstration.

French judicial sources revealed Friday that the three women had all been shot at least three times in the head, giving further credence to the theory of an execution-style hit.

Among the victims was Sakine Cansiz, one of the founder members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been waging an armed struggle for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey since 1984.

Kurdish activists have accused Turkey or rogue nationalist elements in the country's military of being behind the killings.

But the government in Ankara has rubbished any suggestion it was involved and claimed internal feuding within the PKK was more likely to explain the killings.

Autopsies revealed that one of the women had been shot four times in the head and the other two shot three times, the sources said. A police source said that 7.65 mm bullets were found, indicating the use of automatic pistols.

The killings came days after Turkish media reported Turkey and the PKK leadership had agreed a roadmap to end the three-decade old insurgency that has claimed more than 45,000 lives.

Experts say the killings may have been an attempt to derail the nascent peace process.

Police are also examining the possibility that they were triggered by a dispute over the proceeds of money-spinning rackets the PKK is suspected of being involved in.

French authorities are currently running 21 separate investigations into alleged illegal fundraising by the PKK.

The group raises funds through a "revolutionary tax" on Kurdish expatriates that authorities in several countries have condemned as extortion.

The PKK's military wing, the People's Defence Forces (HPG), has warned France it will be held to account if no progress is made in the investigation.

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