French police: man tried to seize weapon at airport, killed

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Ben Belgacem appeared to have become caught up in a "sort of headlong flight that became more and more destructive".

The 39-year-old Paris-born man was killed as he attacked a soldier, grappling with her and trying to steal her assault weapon - ending an hours-long spree of violence. Two other soldiers then opened fire "to protect her" and the public at the airport.

BFM TV reported that Belgacem had sent a chilling text message to his family after shooting one police officer in the face. He was thought to have stolen a auto and driven to Orly, Le Roux said.

Father of the Frenchman shot dead at Orly airport in Paris after attacking a soldier said yesterday that his son was "not a terrorist" and that his actions were caused by drink and drugs.

Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said the man who was killed was "known to the police and intelligence services". He told me, "I ask for your forgiveness".

According to sources of the institution quoted by the local press, the airport fully resumed its activities and there are only some delays due to the reinforcement of security, while there are still some passengers who lost their flight yesterday because of the incident. "We went down the stairs and right after we heard two gunshots".

Early on Saturday morning, Belgacem was stopped at a checkpoint in Garges-les-Gonesse, north of Paris.

Authorities warned visitors to avoid the area while an ongoing police operation was underway.

The officer who was attacked was part of a special unit called Sentinelle, which was created in the wake of the terrorist attacks in 2015, the AP reports.

Almost 3,000 people were evacuated from the South Terminal, and passengers in the West Terminal were confined, said Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henri Brandet.

No one else was injured, Brandet said, adding that an investigation has been launched.

These include the November 2015 attack in Paris when 130 people were killed and the truck attack in Nice previous year.

Traffic was jammed near the airport and people wheeled suitcases down the road.

The incident is one in a string of attacks on France, including a series of gun attacks in November 2015 that left 130 dead, and in Nice previous year when a lorry ploughed into crowds at a Bastille Day celebration killing 86.

It has seen 7,500 armed soldiers deployed on the French streets - half of them in Paris.

France has opened an anti-terrorist probe into Saturday's events.

"Sentinelle" is the government's stepped-up security response to the January 2015 Islamist attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo which killed 12 people.

Last month, calm in French capital had been broken once again after an Egyptian, 29, attacked a group of soldiers near Louvre Museum before being shot and seriously wounded.

  • Salvatore Jensen