French mum believed victim of terror suspect

While the terror attack on the churches in Paris was foiled it appears that the terrorist did leave behind a victim - a young mum who tragically appears to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

French mum believed victim of terror suspect
Aurélie Châtelain, who is believed to have been shot by student terror suspect in Paris on Sunday. Photo: Screngrab/Ouest France

Police are investigating the theory that the 24-year-old IT student named Sid Ahmed Ghlam murdered a young dance enthusiast named Aurélie Châtelain, on the same day he planned to carry out attacks on at least one church in the southern Paris suburb of Villejuif.

Châtelain was found shot dead in the passenger seat of her car. It is believed she was killed in a botched attempt by the suspect to steal her car.

The 32-year-old woman, known as Lily, was found dead in her car in the suburb of Villejuif on Sunday morning. She had been shot once. Her body was found in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Subsequent forensic tests revealed that the terror suspect's blood was found all over the vehicle.

Passersby spotted her body in the car as smoke poured out of the car from an overheating laptop.

The murder, which had made the news in the French press, had left detectives baffled. Her own father told AFP that “she had no enemies”.

The young woman from Caudry, northern France, who was mother to five-year-old Juliette, had only recently written on her Facebook page how happy she was to be in Paris, where she had come to follow a pilates training course.

“Arrived at Clamart! Tomorrow, heading to Villejuif. Found a hotel 20 minutes walk away…so happy!!!” read the message, posted at 11.26pm on Saturday evening.

It now appears that she may have been the victim of Islamist terrorism for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It appears the 24-year-old suspect wanted her car to use in the attacks he planned that morning and she was shot in the process.

On Wednesday her friends and family, already consumed by grief, spoke of their utter shock that she could have been the victim of an Islamist terrorist, who was all set to carry out another bloody attack on France, just three months after the country was left traumatized when 17 people were killed in a terror attack in Paris.

Speaking on Wednesday, Guy Bricout, the mayor of Châtelain's hometown of Caudry, called for her to be awarded the prestigious Legion of Honour.




US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.