A 31-year-old West German embassy attache was shot and killed on a footbridge near the Eiffel Tower early Monday morning, the eighth foreign diplomat assassinated in Paris in the last 10 years.
The diplomat, Siegfried Wielsputz, was found dying with a handwritten, anti-German tract stuffed in his pocket bearing the signature of a Kurdish independence organization.
He told two young men who came upon him, "I've been shot." The two men, who called the police for help, said they noticed a car speeding away as Wielsputz spoke.
Wielsputz, an officer in the visa section of the embassy's consulate, died soon after he was rushed to a hospital.
The tract, with the signature of the Kurdish National Liberation Front, did not claim responsibility for the shooting, and a statement denying responsibility for the "cowardly murder," also signed by the group, was later delivered to the news agency Agence France-Presse here. The statement said the leaflet was intended to discredit the Kurdish movement.
Earlier, the West German Federal Criminal Investigation Office in Wiesbaden said that the first signs of evidence "can speak for 'a connection' with Kurdish leftist terrorists."
The front is reportedly an organization set up by the Kurdish Workers' Party, an underground group accused of using terror in a European campaign to help create an autonomous, leftist Kurdish state out of Turkish territory. West German police said that the Kurdish Workers' Party was responsible for one murder, two attempted murders and a series of assaults in West Germany last year.
The victims have been mainly Turks. After raids by police on Kurdish homes in West Germany last summer, however, Kurdish independence groups began picketing government and private German installations in Europe.
But Wolf Liebau, a spokesman for the West Germany Embassy here, said he had dealt personally with Kurdish demonstrators during recent protests and found them "always completely peaceful."
The tract found on Wielsputz demanded Kurdish independence and the return of $443,000 seized by West German police during last summer's raids on Kurdish extremists in Cologne.
French Premier Jacques Chirac, who is also the mayor of Paris, said, "I am appalled, and I shall convey my horror at this deed and offer my condolences to the family of the victim and to the West German ambassador."
There are believed to be 17 million Kurds living on territory now part of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Although the Kurdish National Liberation Front claims to speak for all Kurds, its only significant sponsor evidently is the Workers' Party, which is a mainly anti-Turkish organization.
The party has claimed responsibility for attacks on Turkish security forces in southeastern Turkey in 1984 and 1987.
After the assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme of Sweden in 1986, Swedish police at first suspected the Kurdish Workers Party of a role in the shooting but later dropped this line of investigation.
Wielsputz, married and the father of two children, had left the consulate after night duty there and presumably was heading for his home in the suburbs of Paris when shot. He was found on a footbridge that crosses the Seine River not far from the consulate. He had been posted to Paris since June 1986.
Paris, a traditional city of exile for political refugees, has seen a good deal of diplomatic violence in the last decade. The diplomats killed here include an American, two Turks, an Israeli, the ambassador from the United Arab Emirates and two representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The American was Lt. Col. Charles R. Ray, gunned down by assassins of the Lebanese Revolutionary Armed Faction in 1982. Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a Lebanese Christian, was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment last February for taking part in planning the murder.
The French government expelled three Kurds and 14 anti-Khomeini Iranians to Gabon last month as part of an obvious deal with Iran for the release of two French hostages from pro-Iranian Muslim extremists in Beirut.