Security forces shot dead a man who tried to seize a soldier’s gun at Paris Orly airport on Saturday, forcing the evacuation of the busy airport and putting security back in the spotlight in the middle of France’s presidential election campaign.
The man, identified as a 39-year-old radicalized Muslim who was already on the radar of police and intelligence services, had earlier shot and wounded a police officer with an air gun after a routine traffic stop north of Paris, officials said.
With the country in the throes of a highly-charged election campaign after two years of attacks on civilians and public targets by Islamic State militants – several of them in Paris – the anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation, reports Reuters.
An army spokesman said he was shot dead after a struggle with a female soldier on patrol in the airport terminal after he had earlier shot and wounded a police officer with an air pistol during a police check on the opposite side of Paris.
The man’s father and brother were taken into police custody, a judicial source said. BFM TV, without giving a source, said the attacker had texted his father saying: “I’ve screwed up. I’ve shot a policeman.”
President Francois Hollande said the case had been turned over to anti-terrorism prosecutors and a number of operations were under way. The incident had shown the need for the “Sentinelle” security operation brought in after an outbreak of attacks by militants in 2015, he said.
More than 230 people have died in France in the past two years at the hands of attackers allied to the militant Islamist group Islamic State, whose strongholds in Syria and Iraq are being bombed by an international coalition including France.
These include coordinated bombings and shootings in November 2015 in Paris when 130 people were killed and scores injured.