A Frenchman, known to the police and intelligence services, was shot dead Saturday by the security forces after trying to steal a weapon from a soldier on patrol at Orly airport south of Paris, where air traffic Suspended.
The investigation was entrusted to the antiterrorist section of Paris. An hour and a half before conducting the attack at Orly, the man had fired on police officers during a check-up in the northern Paris suburb and stole a vehicle in the southern suburbs to go to the airport, 10 km away .
This new alert comes as France faces an unprecedented terrorist threat for more than two years.
Around 07:30 GMT, the man tried to steal a Famas assault rifle “from a soldier and then took refuge in a trade at the international airport before being shot down by the security forces” in the southern terminal, according to The French Ministry of the Interior.
A witness interviewed by AFP said he saw the assailant holding “a hostage a soldier. He held her by the neck, and threatened the other two soldiers with the gun of the woman whom he was trying to snatch. “I heard shouts, and I saw soldiers holding a person in charge,” said Dominique, a traveler traveling to the Dominican Republic who did not wish to give his last name.
The man shot dead is “known to the police and intelligence services,” according to Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux and is a 39-year-old Frenchman, sources close to the investigation said.
His father and brother were placed in police custody, according to the same sources, and President Francois Hollande “welcomed the courage” of the police and military against a “particularly dangerous individual”.
“Air traffic is completely interrupted,” a spokesman for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) told AFP.
— Ministère Intérieur (@Place_Beauvau) March 18, 2017
Nearly 3,000 people were evacuated from the South Terminal, and passengers in the West Terminal were confined, said Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henri Brandet. There were no injuries, he added.
Shops that close their curtains instantly, abandoned suitcases in the middle of the airport: the witnesses who witnessed the attack described a scene as brief as it was violent.
Sofiane Slim, a 30-year-old Royal Air Maroc stop agent, believed that “it was either a film or a training exercise.” He was on the ground floor when the shots rang out. “It was the general panic: people were running from everywhere.”
A de-mining operation made it possible to note the absence of explosives, announced the Ministry of the Interior.
The attack occurred on the first floor of the South Terminal in the public area, just before the controls.
A security perimeter has been set up and large police assets have been committed to the second airport in France after Paris-Charles de Gaulle (Roissy), with 31 million passengers in 2016 and serving 55 countries.
Earlier in the morning, the assailant of Orly had wounded a policeman in the northern Paris suburbs, with a shotgun during a roadside check, before fleeing.
He was subsequently “spotted” in Vitry-sur-Seine (south of the capital) after expelling a driver of a car to go to Orly aboard the stolen vehicle, according to Bruno Le Roux.
“Strongly shocked”, the three soldiers of the patrol referred to Orly were taken in by the relief, according to police sources.
Operation Sentinel, of which they are a part, was set up following the January 2015 attacks in Paris. This series of deadly terrorist attacks included targeting the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a mini-market hideout.
The attack at Orly occurred a month and a half after a previous attack had already targeted soldiers at the Louvre Museum, in the heart of Paris. A 29-year-old Egyptian had attacked the machete of the soldiers, rushing to the patrol shouting “Allah Akbar” (God is the greatest, in Arabic), before being seriously wounded.
It also intervenes as Belgium prepares to commemorate the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks of the airport and the Brussels metro on 22 March (32 deaths).
Since the attacks of November 2015 in Paris and the Paris region (130 deaths), France lives under the state of emergency which has been extended several times and must remain in force until 15 July.
On Thursday, after the explosion of a letter trapped at the Paris headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), French President François Hollande considered that this event led to “justify a state of emergency”.