Kurdish militant chief denies links to suspect in Paris murders

Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:12am EST
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By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Kurdish militant commander denied the suspect held over the killing of three activists in Paris was a member of his group, accusing the Turkish state of involvement in the murders in an interview with a rebel-linked news agency.

The murders overshadowed Turkey's moves to begin peace talks with the rebels and their top field commander, Murat Karayilan, said on Wednesday the government was conducting a "psychological war" rather than sincerely trying to end the conflict.

The Turkish government said it had begun talks with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan on how to end the 28-year-old conflict over Kurdish autonomy and soon after, on January 9, the activists, including a PKK founder, were killed execution-style.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has suggested the motive for the triple murder may be an internal feud in the PKK.

Omer Guney, a driver of one of the women killed, was placed under investigation on Monday, the Paris prosecutor said. Guney, who told prosecutors he had been a PKK member for two years, denied the charges.

"This person definitely had no relationship with the PKK and the PKK leadership," the group's acting head Karayilan told the Firat news agency at his base in northern Iraq, adding that Guney nonetheless did sometimes take part in demonstrations.

"We have no doubt that the Turkish state was involved in this business," he added.

The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, has previously blamed the killings on shadowy elements within the Turkish state or foreign powers, but this is the first time it has blamed the state directly.   Continued...

Thousands attend the funeral ceremony of the three Kurdish activists shot in Paris, in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas