French police guard Notre Dam
french police guard Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, in the wake of revelations an Islamist extremist planned terror attacks against churches Getty

An Algerian man whose alleged plan to attack French churches was foiled when he shot himself in the leg accidentally was "remote controlled" by extremists in Syria, according to French authorities.

Sid Ahmed Ghlam, 24, who was arrested near Paris after being found in possession of a stockpile of weapons, was "remote-controlled from afar by one or more mysterious men", probably based in Syria, a police source told AFP.

The source said that interviewed from his hospital bed, Ghlam seemed to want to talk, but "he appeared literally under the heel of" his commanders, who had told him how and where to acquire the Kalashnikovs, hand guns and bullet proof vests that were found in his possession.

Ghlam was arrested on 19 April in the town of Villejuif, when after shooting himself in the leg and after calling an ambulance, police subsequently discovered his weapons stockpile and plans to target churches.

DNA has linked Ghlam to the killing of a 32-year-old female fitness instructor, who police found dead in her car in the town. Police sources said he may have killed her after attempting to steal her car.

A 25-year-old woman arrested in connection with the alleged plot was released on 24 April.

Ghlam has been placed under surveillance by French security services after allegedly plotting to travel to Syria, where jihadist group Islamic State (Isis) controls territory, but there was not enough evidence to take him into custody, said French authorities after his arrest.

Earlier in April, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls revealed five terror attacks in France had been foiled in the wake of attacks on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris that left 17 dead.