French soldiers have shot dead a man at Paris Orly Airport after he tried to seize a weapon from one of them. An evacuation of the terminal was ordered after the incident.
An unidentified man tried to seize a firearm from a French soldier at the airport and shots were fired by the French military in the ensuing altercation.
“The man succeeded in seizing the weapon of a soldier. He was quickly neutralized by the security forces,” Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told Reuters.
“We confirm that the man, who tried to seize a weapon from a soldier, has been neutralized,” the national police also told media, adding that it would not disclose any detail immediately.
🔴 Alerte #Orly Sud🇫🇷
Une fusillade , un individu abattu il essayé de s’emparer de l’arme d’un militaire
Orly Sud c’est ça ,mes photos : pic.twitter.com/0E10jDkkfa
— Français du Jura (@fr_souche_jura) March 18, 2017
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) March 18, 2017
Aside from the attacker, no other deaths or injuries are reported at the airport.
The man is said to have acted alone. Police sources told Reuters he was known to intelligence services as a radicalized Muslim.
— Remy Buisine (@RemyBuisine) March 18, 2017
French Interior Minister Bruno le Roux told reporters that the assailant at Paris Orly Airport was the same man involved in an incident that had taken place north of Paris earlier, which left one police officer injured, according to AP. The shooting occurred after a police patrol had pulled over the man’s car for an ID check.
— info360 (@info360fr) March 18, 2017
Le Roux added that the perpetrator, who was not identified, had hijacked a car and held the driver at gunpoint before being stopped by the patrol in Stains.
“His identity is known to police and intelligence services,” the minister added.
“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,” a police source also told Reuters.
The incident in Stains took place early on Saturday morning, when the car was pulled over for an ID check at around 7am local time, BFM TV reports. The driver showed his license before pulling out a weapon and opening fire on the officers.
The police officer’s injuries are not life threatening.
Anti-terrorism prosecutors will probe the incidents. The Interior Ministry says that while terror motives are “possible,” it is early to draw conclusions.
The attacker’s father and son have been taken into police custody, Reuters reported citing judicial sources.
Around 3,000 people were evacuated from the terminal during the special operation, according to local media.
Bomb disposal units were sent to the site to make sure the attacker did not have a suicide vest. No explosives have been found.
Flights have been suspended at both terminals of Paris Orly Airport due to the incident, with some inbound flights diverted to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Orly management said.
The South Terminal where the incident took place may stay closed until the evening, while the West Terminal is expected to open shortly.
— Thomas Seymat (@tseymat) March 18, 2017
‘He was holding woman by her neck with gun in his hand’
Some tweets reported a hostage situation, with several witnesses confirming this.
“He was holding the woman by her neck with the police officer’s gun in his hand. We understood the seriousness of the situation and fled. Later we heard several shots,” a witness told media outside the airport.
“When we entered the building, it was calm. Then, within several meters, I saw a young man. He took a female officer hostage and an evacuation happened very quickly,” another said.
The gunfire sparked panic at the airport, a witness identified as Dominque also told BFM television.
“The soldiers took aim at the man, who in turn pointed the gun he had seized at the two soldiers,” he said.
He added that, after snatching the female soldier’s weapon, the attacker grabbed her by the neck and threatened two others, before being shot.
Located 13 km south of Paris, Orly Airport was the French capital’s primary airline hub before the opening of Charles de Gaulle Airport, and continues to serve some 30 million passengers annually.
It remains France’s busiest in terms of domestic flights.
The patrol involved in Saturday’s incident is part of the Sentinel special force, which was deployed throughout France in the wake of a string of deadly jihadist attacks. The force has some 7,500 soldiers, of whom roughly half operate in the Paris region.
A similar incident occurred at the Louvre last month, when an Egyptian man sustained a gunshot wound after attacking soldiers guarding the museum.