PARIS — An assault on a soldier at Orly Airport close to right here on Saturday is being handled as a potential act of terrorism, based on the Paris prosecutor’s workplace. The assailant, the prosecutor stated, had carried out a burst of violence over a interval of two hours earlier than being fatally shot.
The Paris prosecutor, François Molins, stated the motives of the assailant — recognized as 39-yr-previous Ziyed Ben Belgacem — have been unknown. However the prosecutor added that Mr. Belgacem had a prolonged police report, together with arrests for theft and drug-associated offenses, and had served time in jail. He was recognized to the authorities, Mr. Molins stated, however primarily as a legal.
The capturing at Orly prompted a partial evacuation of the airport, the diversion of all flights and a safety sweep to find out whether or not the assailant had left any explosives on the airport’s two terminals, officers stated. Incoming flights have been diverted to close by Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The chain of occasions started when Mr. Belgacem was stopped by the police at 6:fifty five a.m. within the Paris suburb of Garges-lès-Gonesse, after he was noticed driving at a excessive velocity together with his headlights off, Mr. Molins stated at a information convention on Saturday night.
After he pulled over, Mr. Belgacem fired a pistol loaded with birdshot and fled. One police officer was barely injured.
Mr. Belgacem then drove to a bar in Vitry-sur-Seine, the place he fired his gun once more however didn’t injure anybody. When he exited the bar, he left his cellphone there.
He fled in his automotive, however deserted it a number of miles away. He then carjacked one other car and drove about eight miles to the airport.
There he noticed a 3-soldier unit patrolling the airport, Mr. Molins stated. At eight:22 a.m., Mr. Belgacem, carrying his pistol, tossed a container of gasoline on the ground. He grabbed one of many troopers and held his gun to her head.
Mr. Molins stated the troopers reported that he yelled: “I’m right here to die within the identify of Allah. No matter occurs, individuals are going to die.”
As Mr. Belgacem grappled with the soldier, he wrested her rifle from her. At that on the spot, the 2 different troopers fired three bursts from their weapons, killing him.
Mr. Molins stated the antiterrorism unit of the prosecutor’s workplace and the French Intelligence Service had opened an investigation.
Mr. Belgacem was carrying cigarettes, 750 euros in money, or about $800, a lighter and a Quran on the time of the assault, Mr. Molins stated. Cocaine, a machete and a few overseas foreign money have been later discovered at his house.
Mr. Belgacem’s brother, father and cousin have been questioned by the police, Mr. Molins stated.
Whereas in jail throughout 2011 and 2012, Mr. Belgacem was recognized by intelligence officers as somebody who had grow to be radicalized. After his launch, he remained on the authorities’ radar, and his home was searched within the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, Mr. Molins stated, though no motion was taken towards him.
The episode at Orly was harking back to an attack in February close to the Louvre by which a person with two lengthy knives attacked troopers patrolling within the Carrousel du Louvre, an underground shopping center. The person injured a soldier earlier than being shot a number of occasions.
The assault on Saturday got here amid a heated presidential election campaign in France, with the primary spherical of voting to happen on April 23.
Any terrorist assault so near the election, political analysts recommend, might be a chance by the candidates of the far proper, Marine Le Pen, and the middle proper, François Fillon, to berate the present Socialist authorities and by affiliation Emmanuel Macron, the middle-left candidate, who was beforehand the financial system minister, for failing to guard the French individuals.
Whereas each Ms. Le Pen and Mr. Fillon posted Twitter messages about Saturday’s assault, they used the episode primarily as a chance to reward French troopers and, in Ms. Le Pen’s case, to underscore a few of her marketing campaign themes. She stated in her publish: “Violence has overwhelmed France, a consequence of the laxity of successive governments. However there’s the braveness of our troopers.”
Mr. Fillon restricted his Twitter message to reward the “men and women” of what’s often known as Operation Sentinel, the troopers who “work for our safety and have as soon as once more proved their braveness and effectivity.”
The unit attacked on the airport was a part of Operation Sentinel, whose 7,000 troopers patrol public areas, together with airports, vacationer points of interest and practice stations.
The west terminal at Orly reopened by 1 p.m., the Paris airport authority stated. Flights steadily resumed on the south terminal, the place the assault happened.
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