A man was shot dead at Orly Airport in Paris after he’d previously shot one police officer in northern Paris before fleeing to the airport where he had an altercation with another.
According to the Interior Minister of France, Bruno Le Roux, the nearly forty-year-old Ziyed Ben Belgacem tried to shoot armed police officers stationed at check posts in the northern parts of France’s capital.
The French police had the attacker’s identity on a French security watchlist prior to the incident. Le Roux also said the French police and intelligence officers have detained the attacker’s father and brother for further questioning.
One of the police sources described the attacker as a “radical Muslim,” while French president François Hollande said an indepth investigation would help uncover if the offender “had a terrorist plot behind him.”
One anonymous source stated that Ziyed Ben Belgacem was on the watch list but wasn’t considered a high-level threat; he was not assigned a place on France’s fiche “S” or the “S” card by the intelligence communities, they said.
The attacker tried to snatch an assault rifle from an on-duty soldier before officers shot the offender.
France’s Minister of Defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, praised the officers’ quick actions to save their fellow duty officer, acting with great professionalism and exceptional performance.
François Hollande, President of France, also praised the courage of the officers and the work of the force, and taking care of a threat for the people living in France.
Prosecutors that specialise in terrorism have opened an inquiry into this attack, as they believe it might have been an ISIS-involved attack.
No one was injured at the airport when the event took place. However, this event did trigger the French government’s SAIP terror warning system, an app designed to alert the people of any terrorist attacks in their area.
According to a witness at the airport at the time, he described how he heard gunshots and then witnessed the police and medics running to the building.
The attacker was fatally shot in the airport. Over 3,000 people were evacuated as a precaution until the building could be fully investigated for potential bomb threats.
Immediately after the incident, Orly Airport’s website was updated, telling its customers of possible diversions and delays. Most airport operations were halted, planes were grounded and air traffic controllers located at the west and south terminals told to standby.
The soldier attacked was a member of Operation Sentinel, an initiative taken by the French government to position trained soldiers around high profile locations across Paris following the Charlie Hebdo attack.
In Feb. 2017, members of the force assigned to protect the Louvre Museum were attacked by an individual wielding a machete he’d earlier purchased in a Paris gun store.
In 2015, three members of the special unit were stabbed during their patrols of a Jewish community centre in Nice.
In early 2016, a man rammed his vehicle into soldiers that were guarding a mosque in the southeastern French city of Valence.
These attacks have put France on a permanent state of emergency and high alert.
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