EU ministers to talk security in Paris after train attack

 European ministers gathered in Paris on Saturday to discuss beefing up security on public transport following last week`s foiled jihadist attack on a high-speed train.

Paris: European ministers gathered in Paris on Saturday to discuss beefing up security on public transport following last week`s foiled jihadist attack on a high-speed train.

Prosecutors have charged 25-year-old Moroccan Ayoub El Khazzani over the incident, in which he allegedly stepped out of a toilet cubicle in the Amsterdam-Paris train armed with an assault rifle, 270 rounds of ammunition and a Luger pistol strapped to his chest.

He was stopped in his tracks by several French passengers, two young American off-duty servicemen, their student friend and a 62-year-old British consultant, all of whom have since been awarded France`s top honour, the Legion d`Honneur.

European interior and transport ministers decided to meet in the wake of the thwarted attack to discuss security measures.

Ministers from Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Switzerland will meet in Paris, along with EU commissioners.

"(It) will... look at very concrete proposals," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said earlier this week.

"Can we implement simultaneous and coordinated checks in EU countries?," he asked.

"We must examine whether we can implement a system that allows for more systematic checks in airports, in public transport, in a more coordinated way."

A source close to Cazeneuve said that the ministers would discuss the feasibility of carrying out targeted checks on people who, for instance, have come from Turkey, a common entrance point to Syria for would-be jihadists.

But experts have said little can realistically be done to guarantee safety on trains. 

"Airplanes leave from a specific place -- you can build a security apparatus around them," said Raffaello Pantucci, a terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London. 

"It`s just not possible to do that with trains. You would have to do that at every station from large terminals in Paris to small towns in rural France."Khazzani, accused of a "targeted and premeditated" terrorist attack, was on the radar of several European intelligence agencies. He was first flagged as an Islamic extremist by authorities in Spain, where he lived until 2014.

Because of Europe`s lack of border controls in the 26-country Schengen zone, he was able to move freely around much of the continent.

Khazzani left Spain for France, where he worked for a mobile phone operator for two months before being let go and disappearing.

Then in May this year, he popped up on the intelligence radars once again when German authorities warned he had boarded a plane in Berlin bound for Turkey.

In June, he surfaced in Albania, and on August 21, Khazzani boarded the train in Brussels, where his sister lives and he is believed to have lived for some time.

Aside from security, ministers in Paris are also expected to touch on the ongoing migration crisis in Europe, which has seen a massive influx of people fleeing wars, hunger and authoritarian regimes at huge risk to their lives.

One of the French passengers who was shot in last week`s struggle on the commuter train is recovering in hospital.

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