Slaying of Kurds Reminder of Long-Simmering Tensions in Germany
BERLIN (AP) _ Two gunmen yelled ″bastards″ in Farsi, the Iranian language, as they opened fire in a Berlin restaurant, killing a Kurdish leader and three colleagues, witnesses say.
German authorities said they believed Iranian or Kurdish agents were responsible for the assassination late Thursday of Sadiq Sharafkindi, the head of the Kurdish Democratic Party, and his colleagues.
The People’s Mujahedeen, a Baghdad-based Iranian opposition group, released a statement in Washington blaming the Iranian government.
Sharafkindi, 55, was elected secretary-general of the Kurdish party in 1990, and had been seeking autonomy for 6.5 million Kurds in Iran. He was in the German capital for this week’s meeting of socialist leaders from around the world.
Sharafkindi’s predecessor, the guerrilla leader Abdul Rahman Qassemlou, was slain in Vienna in 1989 while conducting negotiations with Iranian officials to end Iran’s Kurdish rebellion. Iranian government agents were widely suspected.
The more than 20 million Kurds in the world live mostly in Turkey, Iran and Iraq, where they are striving for autonomy and independence.
The plight of the Iraqi Kurds captured international attention last year, after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein brutally put down their uprising after the Gulf War.
A Marxist Kurdish party in southeast Turkey recently stepped up its battle for an independent homeland there. Fighting around the Iranian border has created tensions between Turkey and Iran.
Berlin police said two other high-ranking members of Sharafkindi’s party were killed in Thursday’s attacks. Kurdish groups in Berlin and Paris identified one of them as Fatah Abduli, the party’s chief foreign representative, and an Iraqi Kurdish official in Turkey identified one as Fatah Kouwiani.
Police said the fourth person killed was a student supporter, and that a Kurd who ran the restaurant was seriously injured.
The attack occurred about 11 p.m. when the two men entered a back room of the Mykonos restaurant in the Wilmersdorf district and opened fire, Berlin police spokesman Gerhard Lippke said. One was armed with a submachine gun, and the other with a pistol.
The gunmen and a third accomplice who had been waiting in the doorway fled, Lippke said.