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Chechen Friend Of Paris Attacker Charged With 'Associating With Terrorists'


Khamzat Azimov as he appeared in a video released by the Islamic State extremist group

A friend of a Chechen-born man who carried out a deadly knife attack in Paris was charged on May 17 with "associating with criminal terrorists," while two women were detained for questioning, French judicial officials said.

The Paris prosecutor's office identified the friend only as Abdul Hakim A and said he was put in provisional detention pending further investigation.

The suspect is a naturalized French citizen who was born in the Russian republic of Chechnya and grew up in the same city, Strasbourg, as the knife attacker, Khamzat Azimov, 20, officials said.

Police say Azimov killed one man and injured five others in the French capital before being shot dead by police on May 12. The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The men were close friends and both have appeared on French terror watch lists, although neither had a prior criminal record.

France's antiterror prosecutor Francois Molins said at a news conference on May 17 that Azimov's friend denied knowing anything about the knife attack, but an examination of telephone records showed that shortly before the attack, he sent his sister a text message of "a jihadist chant regularly used by the Islamic State."

Molins said that two female friends of Azimov also were detained for questioning on May 17 in connection with the attack. He did not elaborate.

The attack brought to 246 the number killed in a string of attacks claimed by IS in France since 2015.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa
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