Paris’s anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation into a shooting Saturday at Orly airport, south of the city, after a man who seized a soldier’s weapon was killed by security personnel. The airport was evacuated, and flights diverted to the larger Charles de Gaulle hub.
The assailant snatched a weapon from a patrolling officer on duty in Orly’s South terminal and sought to hide in a shop, before being shot dead by a special police unit, French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said. The minister said the man was known to police and intelligence services. All flights to Orly were re-routed after 9 a.m. in Paris, Aeroport de Paris and the aviation authority DGAC said in text messages. The South wing of the airport was evacuated.
The Journal du Dimanche said the suspect, a 39-year-old French citizen, was known for robbery and drug trafficking. His home was searched in 2015, the paper reported, citing police sources. Separately, Agence France-Presse said the assailant’s brother and father had been arrested.
The anti-terror unit is in charge of the probe, the prosecutor’s office said in a text message. The intelligence services and anti-terrorism units of the police will assist in investigating the incident, which comes a month before the French presidential election.
Police found no explosive devices following checks, but asked passengers to avoid coming to the airport. Over 430 flights were scheduled to land and depart from the airport Saturday, DGAC said in a text message.
The airport’s West terminal is re-opening slowly, the DGAC said, while the South terminal where the attacks happened will stay closed for the investigation. Passengers on board grounded planes on the tarmac are being taken to the West terminal to be unloaded, DGAC said.
The incident at Orly occurred hours after the same man shot and injured a police officer performing identity checks north of Paris, Le Roux said.
Saturday’s shooting is the second on patrolling soldiers in France this year. In February, soldiers were attacked near the Louvre museum in Paris. The assailant was severely injured by armed forces.
France’s terror alert was maintained at its highest level, President Francois Hollande said in a statement. The country has been in a state of emergency rule since December 2016, following multiple attacks over the past two years.