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Tens of thousands of Kurds have attended the funerals in Diyarbakir, Turkey, of three female Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris last week.

Crowds chanted as the coffins of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) members Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Saylemez were carried through the city streets to a parade ground where the funerals were held.

There was tight security at the event.

No-one has been arrested for the crime and the motive is unclear.

But a prominent Kurdish politician said the killings would not deter those seeking an end to the Kurdish conflict.

The chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, Selahattin Demirtas, told the crowd: “We say now is the time for peace.

“We shout this out in front of the bodies of our dead. Don’t let our children die any more. We can stop this bloodshed by talking.”

“If the process is to advance with confidence, these murders must be a turning point.”

Tens of thousands of Kurds have attended the funerals in Diyarbakir, Turkey, of three female Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris last week

Tens of thousands of Kurds have attended the funerals in Diyarbakir, Turkey, of three female Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris last week

No group has said it killed the women, who French police say were subject to an execution-style shooting. Many Kurds blame elements of the state.

There were calls for revenge as the coffins, draped in the red, green and yellow Kurdish flag, made their way through the crowds in the south-eastern Turkish city.


Some women chanted “Fighting makes you free”, and other pro-PKK slogans, as they followed the funeral procession.

But many female mourners were wearing white scarves, a symbol of peace.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had appealed for calm and suggested the deaths may have been intended to sabotage peace efforts.

Officials have been in talks with the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in an effort to put an end to the group’s armed campaign.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also said his government will continue anti-PKK operations until the Kurdish militants lay down their arms.

On Wednesday, Turkish jets reportedly bombed Kurdish targets in northern Iraq for a third consecutive day.

Last year saw some of the heaviest fighting with the PKK in decades. Since the conflict began, more than 40,000 people have been killed.

The group, regarded by Turkey, the US and EU as a terrorist organization, launched an armed campaign for an ethnic Kurdish homeland in south-east Turkey in 1984.

Turkish security forces were put on alert ahead of possible demonstrations by the Kurdish minority, but only minor clashes were reported by witnesses.

Police helicopters were in evidence over the city, which is seen as the heart of the Kurdish community and culture in Turkey.

After the ceremony the women’s bodies were to be taken to their home villages for burial.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on French President Francois Hollande to explain why he previously met one of the Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris on Thursday.

One of the three women killed was Sakine Cansiz – a co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a group proscribed by the European Union.

President Francois Hollande has said that he and other politicians had regularly met one of the women, without saying which one.

Turkey has fought the PKK for 25 years.

Some 40,000 people have died, but the Paris shootings came as Ankara sought peace talks with the group.

Thousands demonstrated in central Paris on Saturday to demand action over the deaths of the activists who were found shot dead at the Kurdish information centre in Paris on Thursday. According to French media they had been shot in the head or neck.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on French President Francois Hollande to explain why he previously met one of the Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris on Thursday

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on French President Francois Hollande to explain why he previously met one of the Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris on Thursday

At a meeting in Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Francois Hollande should “immediately disclose” why he met members of “this terrorist organization, what was discussed, to what end he was in communication with these terrorists”.

“How can you routinely meet with members of an organization labeled a terrorist group by the European Union and being sought by Interpol? What kind of politics is this?” he added.

Sakine Cansiz, who was detained and tortured in Turkey in the 1980s, is said to be close to the jailed PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

A second woman has been named as Fidan Dogan, 32, who worked in the information centre. She was also the Paris representative of the Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress.

The third, named as Leyla Soylemez, was a young activist.

The PKK took up arms in 1984, demanding greater autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds, who are thought to comprise up to 20% of the population.

It is regarded by Turkey, the US and European Union as a terrorist organization, because of its attacks on Turkish security forces and civilians.

In 2012 it stepped up its attacks, leading to the fiercest fighting in decades, but violence has subsided in recent months.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested the killings had been designed to sabotage peace talks between Turkey and the PKK.

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At least 19 people have died in southeast Turkey after Kurdish rebels launched an attack on a Turkish border post, according to local media.

Rebels fired rocket launchers on an army post in Hakkari province just after midnight, NTV in Turkey said.

Turkish military jets are pursuing them and bombing their escape routes, NTV said.

Several thousand Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels are believed to be based in hideouts in northern Iraq.

At least 19 people have died in southeast Turkey after Kurdish rebels launched an attack on a Turkish border post

At least 19 people have died in southeast Turkey after Kurdish rebels launched an attack on a Turkish border post

According to the governor for Hakkari province, Orhan Alimoglu, six soldiers, two village guards and 11 Kurdish rebels were killed in the attack near the village of Gecimili.

He said 15 soldiers were injured in the incident.

The number of clashes between the PKK and the Turkish armed forces has risen in southeast Turkey over the past year.

A series of clashes in June left dozens dead.

The PKK is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the US.

It launched a guerrilla campaign in 1984 for an ethnic homeland in the Kurdish heartland in the south-east of Turkey.

It has now dropped its claim to an independent Kurdish state, but says it is fighting for autonomy and the cultural rights of the Kurdish people.