May 16, 2017 / 12:13 PM / 2 years ago

French investigate suspected accomplice in militant attacks

A woman installs blue, white and red candles, the colours of the French flag, during a tribute to the victims of Paris attacks, at the Place de la Republique in Paris, France, in this file photo dated November 27, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

PARIS (Reuters) - An Algerian has been put under formal investigation in France on suspicion of aiding deadly Islamist militant attacks in Paris in late 2015 and an earlier failed attack on a cross-border high-speed train, a judicial source said on Tuesday.

Bilan Chatra is suspected of having acted as a scout for Abdelhamid Abaaoud, one of the presumed masterminds of the shootings and bombings in Paris in November 2015 in which 130 people were killed, a source close to the investigation said.

Abaaoud was one of three suspected attackers who were later killed in a police operation in a northern Paris suburb.

Chatra was believed to have fulfilled the same role as scout for Ayoub El Khazzani, who pulled out a Kalashnikov on the high-speed Amsterdam to Paris train in August 2015. He shot and wounded a passenger before being overpowered by off-duty U.S. servicemen.

Chatra, who was arrested by authorities in Germany in July 2016 and recently handed over to France, is under investigation on suspicion of complicity in murder linked to terrorist action and of criminal terrorist association, the judicial source said.

An investigating magistrate will conduct an inquiry to decide whether there is sufficient evidence for Chatra to be sent to trial.

Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing By Richard Balmforth; editing by John Stonestreet

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