* Erdogan says may have been internal feud
* Turkey puts European missions on alert
* Kurds demonstrate in Germany and Sweden
By Ayla Jean Yackley
ISTANBUL, Jan 11 Kurdish rebels suggested on
Friday that clandestine Turkish nationalists may have
assassinated three Kurdish activists in Paris, but Prime
Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the killings appeared to have been
the result of an internal feud.
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said the execution-style
killings of the three women in an institute in central Paris had
been premeditated and planned and warned France would be held
responsible if it failed to get to the bottom of their deaths.
Sakine Cansiz, a founding member of the PKK, and two fellow
activists were found shot in the head early on Thursday in an
attack which shocked the Kurdish community and overshadowed
peace moves between Turkey and the rebels.
Turkey put its missions in Europe - home to a large Kurdish
diaspora - on alert and asked the French authorities to boost
security around its interests there, after the pro-Kurdish Peace
and Democracy Party (BDP) called for protest meetings.
In Berlin, home to a large Kurdish and Turkish population,
some 700 Kurds demonstrated in the streets, many carrying
posters of the three women. One group carried a sign saying,
"Women are murdered, Europe is silent."
About 200 people stood in sub-zero temperatures outside the
French embassy in Stockholm chanting "Long Live the PKK" and
"The targeting of three of our female comrades at a time
like this is a premeditated, planned and organised attack," said
a statement on the website of the armed wing of the PKK, deemed
a terrorist group by Ankara, Washington and the European Union.
"France has a responsibility to elucidate these killings
immediately. Otherwise, they will be held responsible for the
massacre of our comrades."
The statement blamed "international and Turkish Gladio
forces" for the killings, a reference to NATO's Cold War
anti-communist Gladio operations, now used in Turkey as
shorthand for alleged state-sponsored nationalist violence.
Shadowy Turkish nationalist groups are believed to have
killed hundreds of activists in the mainly Kurdish southeast
over the past three decades in unsolved murders.
Turkish media reports have also suggested the possible
involvement of Damascus or Tehran, which have Kurdish minorities
and are at odds with NATO member Turkey over issues including
the conflict in Syria.
Erdogan said that while investigations needed to be
completed before a definitive conclusion could be reached,
evidence so far pointed to an internal feud, as the building was
secured by a coded lock which could be opened only by insiders.
"Those three people opened it. No doubt they wouldn't open
it to people they didn't know," Erdogan told reporters on his
plane returning from Senegal on Friday, according to the
state-run Anatolian news agency.
He said the killings could also have been intended to
sabotage efforts towards peace talks with the PKK.
THREAT TO PEACE TALKS
Cansiz was a prominent figure in the PKK, initially as a
fighter and later in charge of the group's civil affairs in
Europe. A 1995 photograph shows her standing next to PKK leader
Abdullah Ocalan wearing olive battle fatigues and clutching an
French investigators gave no immediate indication of who
might be behind the murders. The PKK has seen intermittent
internal feuding during an armed campaign in the mountainous
Turkish southeast that has killed some 40,000 people since 1984.
Turkish nationalist militants - linked by critics of the
military to the security establishment - have in the past also
been accused of killing Kurdish activists, who want regional
autonomy. But such incidents have been confined to Turkey.
"Kurds don't benefit from this murder. I don't think
in-fighting is at all behind this," said Eren Keskin, one of
Ocalan's lawyers who first met Cansiz in 1991.
"The Kurdish problem isn't just in Turkey, it involves many
states in the Middle East, Europe and the United States. There
are many circles that are uncomfortable with the prospect of
peace, and there are many who profit from the lack of peace."
Turkey recently announced it had begun talks with Ocalan,
jailed since 1999 on the small island of Imrali near Istanbul.
PKK hardliners are likely to be sceptical about such talks.
According to media reports, the Turkish state and PKK have
agreed the framework for a peace plan, which would involve
boosting Kurdish minority rights in exchange for the ultimate
disarmament of the militants.
"If the events surrounding this murder aren't revealed, then
this process will collapse, sooner or later," Sebahat Tuncel, a
BDP lawmaker who knew Cansiz, told Reuters.
"Anyone who knows the Kurdish movement and its history knows
it is not possible for the PKK to fracture like this ... In the
past, these types of provocations that have derailed peace
efforts have come from the state," she said.
Erdogan has introduced reforms allowing Kurdish language
broadcasting and other concessions on language; but activists
are demanding more freedom in education and administration.
Kurdish politicians are also demanding improved prison
conditions for Ocalan with a view to him being released from
jail and put under house arrest, but Erdogan played down any
changes in Ocalan's situation.
"The conditions at Imrali are better than those in any
country in the world and we're talking about special treatment,"
Erdogan said. Ocalan was able to walk daily in a courtyard with
other inmates and would be given a television, he said.