Anti-terror police in Paris
Anti-terror police in ParisGetty Images

A man who was allegedly plotting to carry out terror attacks on Paris churches is linked to the killing of Aurelie Chatelain, a 32-year-old Frenchwoman, who was found murdered in her car on Sunday (19 April) in the French town of Villejuif, in the Paris suburb of Val-de-Marne.

The man, a 24-year-old Algerian IT student, was arrested after he called paramedics after shooting himself in the leg by accident.

According to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, the young mother found in her car could be a collateral victim of the terrorist, who is thought to have shot himself while trying to steal her car.

In a statement, Cazeneuve said DNA from the Algerian suspect and ballistic analyses show his involvement in the death of the young mother, Aurelie Chatelain.

A weapons arsenal in the car

Medics who arrived after the suspect's call saw it was a gunshot wound and called police.

Officers followed a trail of blood to a car that reportedly contained an arsenal of weapons, including a number of handguns, a Kalashnikov assault rifle, bullet-proof vests, as well as notes about potential targets.

Officers also found flashing blue lights of the type that fix magnetically onto police car roofs, as well as orange police armbands of the kind used by French plainclothes officers, reports RTL radio.

A collateral victim

Around 8.40am on Sunday, firefighters were alerted by two bystanders who noticed smoke inside a Renault Scenic parked in a street just behind the Gustave-Roussy Institute, reported on Monday (20 April) in the daily Le Parisien.

Inside the burning vehicle, rescuers found the young woman in the passenger seat, with a bullet in the right shoulder.

According to preliminary information, the fire was caused by the overheating of a laptop plugged into the cigarette lighter.

An investigation into her murder has been opened.

The victim, a fitness instructor from Caudry in the North of the country, had just left her five-year-old daughter to go to Paris to attend a pilates class.