Three Kurdish women activists have been shot dead in Paris in what appears to be a politically motivated execution.

Found dead with gunshot wounds to the head in a Kurdish information centre in the French capital, one of the victims is believed to be Sakine Cansiz, a co-founder of the militant Kurdish separatist movement PKK. The other two victims are Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls visited the scene of the incident, condemning the atrocity and saying an investigation was under way.

This is a very grave matter. This is unacceptable. The investigation is only starting under the authority of the prosecutor's office and the anti-terrorist forces are involved to shed all possible light on this unacceptable act."

Protests by members of the Kurdish community are occurring where the shooting took place near the Gare du Nord train station in central Paris. Eyup Dory, spokesperson for the EDP Party in Paris, described Ms. Cansiz as a hisotirc figure in the Kurdish resistance movement.

"The woman who was killed was an historic figure who was tortured under the military dictatorship in the 1980s, who spent years in jail and who was recognised as a political refugee in France. The other, younger one was practically born here. She went through the French education system. She was working for the recognition of her rights and her identity and the freedom of the Kurdish people."

The motive for the shootings is unclear. Some 40,000 people have died in the 25-year conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK, who demand greater autonomy for the Kurds in Turkey who make up almost 1/5 of the population.

Written and presented by Alfred Joyner