AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMONA French policeman
secures the area at Paris' Orly airport
after security forces fatally shot a man who
tried to grab a soldier's firearm, on March
A man who said he was ready to die for
Allah was shot dead on Saturday after
attacking a soldier at Paris's Orly airport,
triggering a major security alert that
caused travel chaos.
Ziyed Ben Belgacem, a 39-year-old French
national, grabbed a female soldier and put a
gun to her head, seizing her assault rifle,
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a
"Put your weapons down, hands on your heads.
I'm here to die for Allah. In any case
people are going to die," the attacker told
the troops in Molins's account of the
He tried to use the soldier as a human
shield but she dropped to her knees, giving
her two colleagues an opportunity to shoot
Ben Belgacem was carrying a petrol can in a
backpack as well as a copy of the Koran,
Molins said. Officials say he had a string
of criminal convictions and was previously
investigated for links to radical Islam.
AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMONTravellers were
evacuated from Paris' Orly airport following
the shooting on March 18, 2017
The incident comes as France remains on
high alert following a series of jihadist
attacks that have claimed more than 230
lives since January 2015.
Molins said Ben Belgacem had also fired at
police in the northern Paris suburb of
Garges-les-Gonesse earlier on Saturday,
slightly injuring one officer in the head.
Prosecutors said they opened an anti-terror
- 'Total panic' -
Graphics/AFP /Man shot dead by security
forces at Paris' Orly airport
The attacker's father, brother and
35-year-old cousin have all been detained
for questioning, Molins said. All three had
made contact with the police themselves.
Flights were halted at Orly for several
hours following the shooting, which happened
just before 8:30 am (0730 GMT). Around 3,000
people were evacuated from the building.
Incoming flights were diverted and
thousands of passengers stranded at Paris's
second-largest airport, but normal service
resumed by mid-afternoon.
France goes to the polls on April 23 in
the first round of a two-stage presidential
election in which security is one of the
main issues on voters' minds.
Witnesses described scenes of chaos as
the shooting took place.
"There was total panic," Sofiane Slim, a
check-in assistant at Royal Air Maroc, told
Elite police teams secured the airport
and searched it for explosives but none were
French President Francois Hollande said
his government was "determined to fight
relentlessly against terrorism, defend the
security of our compatriots and ensure the
protection of our country".
- 'France still a target' -
AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMONOrly is the second
largest airport in Paris, and thousands of
travellers were evacuated following the
shooting on March 18, 2017
Ben Belgacem is believed to have stolen a
car and driven to Orly after shooting at
police north of the city, Molins said.
He had committed several armed robberies
and was investigated for radicalisation in
2015, although he did not feature on the
list of those thought to pose a high risk.
He lived in an apartment in
Garges-les-Gonesse, which was searched by
investigators after the shooting on
The shooting took place on the second day of
an official visit to Paris by Britain's
Prince William and his wife Kate, which was
AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMONFrench special forces
secure the area after a man was shot dead at
Paris' Orly airport, on March 18, 2017
France remains under a state of emergency
after a series of terror attacks, including
the November 2015 massacre in Paris and a
truck attack in Nice last July.
In mid-February, a machete-wielding
Egyptian man attacked a soldier outside
Paris's Louvre museum before being shot and
The soldiers on patrol at Orly airport
belong to Operation Sentinelle, a force of
7,000 troops deployed in the capital and
other cities after the January 2015 attacks
On Thursday, a letter bomb exploded at
the Paris offices of the International
Monetary Fund, injuring a secretary who
suffered burns to her hands and face.
Investigators suspect a Greek far-left
group was behind the attack, which Hollande
said showed that France was "still