A man has been shot dead after grabbing a gun from a soldier at Orly airport. Officials say the same individual was also behind a police shooting that took place just hours earlier in another part of Paris.
French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the man ran into a shop inside the airport before he was shot dead by security forces on Saturday morning.
“The man succeeded in seizing the weapon of a soldier. He was quickly neutralized by the security forces,” Brandet said.
A security source quoted by Reuters said the same attacker had shot and injured a police officer at a traffic stop north of Paris earlier Saturday.
“A police road check took place in Stains this morning at 0700. It turned bad and the individual shot at the officers before fleeing,” the source said.
“This same man – a radicalized Muslim known to intelligence services and the justice system – then took a Famas (assault weapon) from a soldier at Orly’s southern terminal … before being shot dead by a soldier.”
French prosecutors said they had opened an anti-terrorist probe. The shootings come weeks before presidential elections in France, which remains under a state of emergency following a string of recent terror attacks.
Airport evacuated, flights diverted
Emergency vehicles surrounded Orly airport in Paris’ southern outskirts as the elite RAID special police force secured the area.
A bomb sweep was carried out to make sure the man was not wearing an explosive belt, but nothing was found, officials said. The assailant’s motive wasn’t immediately clear.
Thousands of passengers were evacuated from the building. The airport authority said air traffic to Orly had been “completely suspended” and that all flights were being redirected to Charles de Gaulle airport.
“We had queued up to check in for the Tel Aviv flight when we heard three or four shots nearby,” witness Franck Lecam told AFP. “We are all outside the airport, about 200 meters from the entrance. There are policemen, emergency workers and soldiers everywhere in all directions.”
Country on edge
A national police official said the soldier accosted by the slain man was part of the Sentinel special force installed around France to protect sensitive sites after a series of deadly attacks.
The shooting follows a similar incident in Paris last month in which an Egyptian man wielding a machete was shot after attacking soldiers guarding the Louvre Museum. In November 2015, multiple terrorists killed 130 people in Paris. In July 2016, an attacker drove a truck through crowds in Nice celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86 people.
Orly airport is south of Paris and is the French capital’s second-largest airport after Charles de Gaulle.
nm/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)