Police in France have taken into custody five Chechens suspected of having been in contact with the Chechen refugee who beheaded a history teacher this fall, the French press reported Tuesday.
At least 14 people are being prosecuted in connection with Samuel Paty’s killing, with five of them indicted for pointing out him out to 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov, who decapitated the teacher on Oct. 16, according to the Le Figaro daily.
Police took another five Chechens aged 18 to 21 into custody for up to 96 hours early Monday, Le Figaro and Le Parisien reported, citing unnamed sources.
Anti-terrorism investigators suspect them of communicating with Anzorov online.
Le Figaro reported that the unnamed Chechens could be indicted for complicity in a terrorist assassination or involvement in a terrorist criminal association.
Moscow-born Anzorov, who was shot and killed by French police at the crime scene, was buried in his native Chechen village this weekend.
Chechen state television coverage of his funeral cast the killer in a sympathetic light, prompting the Kremlin to issue a condemnation that fell short of saying whether it justified terrorism.
Chechen authorities maintained that the funeral received “objective” coverage.
Paty’s murder sparked a torrent of outrage that prompted French President Emmanuel Macron to crack down on Islamist extremism in a country that has suffered a series of jihadist attacks since 2015 that killed more than 250 people.
Chechnya’s strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov in October accused Macron of provoking Muslims and compared the French leader to a “terrorist” for speaking in defense of Paty.
AFP contributed reporting.