The Latest: Orly attacker used revolver to detain soldier
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on incident at Orly Airport in Paris where a man was shot to death after attempting to seize a soldier’s weapon (all times local):
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins says the man who attacked a soldier at Orly Airport had 9 mm revolver that shoots birdshot and used it to take the soldier hostage.
He said the soldier’s colleagues shot the man to death after he wrenched away her powerful military-grade assault rifle Saturday morning.
Molins told reporters Saturday night that the attacker — a Frenchman he named as Ziyed Ben Belgacem — had shot off the pistol twice earlier that day: once against French police at a traffic stop, then in a bar where he pointed it at customers, shot it but didn’t hit anyone.
Molins says a cousin of the airport attacker is in custody after presenting himself to police. The attacker’s father and brother are also in police custody for questioning — standard operating procedure in such cases.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins says French soldiers fired three bursts, eight rounds in all, to kill the attacker who took a member of their patrol hostage at Paris’ Orly Airport and wrested away her assault rifle.
Molins said the attacker held a pistol to the soldier’s head in the Saturday morning attack and used her as a shield. Contrary to earlier reports by French officials, Molins says the attacker did wrench away her powerful military-grade assault rifle and wanted to use it to shoot people at the busy Paris airport.
Speaking Saturday night at a news conference, the prosecutor said a Quran was among the items later found on the body of the attacker, Ziyed Ben Belgacem.
Molins said the French-born 39-year-old was flagged for suspected radicalism during a previous spell in prison.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins has told a news conference that the man who attacked a soldier and was killed by her colleagues at Orly Airport yelled that he wanted to die in the name of Allah and “whatever happens, there will be deaths.”
Molins said the attacker held a pistol to the soldier’s head on Saturday morning, used her as a shield and succeeded in a struggle to wrest away her powerful military-grade assault rifle. He said the attacker apparently aimed to use it to shoot people in the busy Paris airport.
He says the attacker, identified by Molins as French-born Ziyed Ben Belgacem, also carried a container of gasoline that he tossed to the ground.
A French official connected to the investigation confirms media reports identifying the Orly Airport attacker as Ziyed Ben Belgacem, a 39-year-old born in France.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the suspected attacker’s identity.
France Info radio, on its website, identified him as Ziyed Ben Belgacem, which the official confirmed to the AP. Le Parisien newspaper named him only as Ziyed B. and said he was born in Paris.
__Associated Press Writer John Leicester
The Paris prosecutors’ office says the 39-year-old suspected attacker who was shot and killed at Orly Airport had already crossed authorities’ radar for suspected Islamic extremism.
Prosecutors say Saturday that the suspect’s house was among scores searched in November 2015 in the immediate aftermath of suicide bomb-and-gun attacks that killed 130 people in Paris. Those searches targeted people with suspected radical leanings.
After the airport attack on Saturday, the suspect’s father and brother were detained by police for questioning — part of standard police operations in such cases.
French President Francois Hollande says investigators will determine whether the Orly Airport attacker “had a terrorist plot behind him.”
Hollande ruled out any link between Saturday’s attack and the upcoming French presidential election in April and May, noting that France has been battling the threat of extremism for several years.
He says the attack shows that France’s policy of having military patrols guarding public sites “is essential,” and that the nation “must remain extremely vigilant.”
Flights are gradually resuming from Paris’ Orly Airport, in the wake of Saturday’s attack by a man who was killed as he tried to take a soldier’s weapon.
The Paris airport authority, ADP, says the first flight from the reopened airport’s West Terminal was bound for Pau in the French southwest at 1:34 p.m. (1234 GMT), five hours after soldiers shot and killed the attacker.
Flights are yet to resume at the airport’s South Terminal.
French police say the suspected attacker killed at Orly Airport was stopped earlier Saturday morning by a police patrol in northern Paris because he was driving too fast.
The national police information office says that as the man was showing the traffic patrol his ID papers, he pulled out a gun and fired bird shot at the three officers, injuring one of them.
Police fired back. The man fled in his car.
That traffic stop at 6:50 a.m. was at Garges-les-Gonesse, north of Paris near Le Bourget airport.
The man later abandoned that vehicle at Vitry, south of Paris, and stole another. That car was later found at Orly airport.
French president Francois Hollande has praised the courage and efficiency of troops and police following the incidents at Orly Airport and in a northern Paris suburb.
In a written statement, Hollande reaffirms the state’s “determination to act without respite to fight terrorism, defend our compatriots’ security and ensure the protection of the territory.”
He says the Sentinelle operation —about 7,500 troops patrolling on the country’s streets and sensitive sites— has proved useful in addition to police forces.
The Paris prosecutors office says the suspected attacker killed at Orly Airport after trying to wrestle away a soldier’s weapon was 39 years old and was known to police for robbery and drug offenses. Prosecutors did not disclose the man’s name but said he was born in 1978 and nine unspecified infractions on his criminal record.
A spokesman for the military force that patrols public sites in France says the soldier attacked at Orly Airport was “shocked” but uninjured after the “very violent aggression” by a man who was quickly shot dead by two of her fellow patrolmen.
The spokesman, Benoit Brulon, was speaking to BFM television.
The attack at Orly Airport marked at least the fourth time that Sentinelle soldiers have been targeted since the force was created two years ago. Some have been wounded, but no one in the force has been killed.
The Sentinelle force was set up after the attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015. Reinforced after the Nov. 13 assaults that left 130 people dead in Paris, it includes 7,500 soldiers, half of them deployed in the Paris region and half in the provinces.
In February, a man wielding a machete attacked four Sentinelle soldiers near the Louvre Museum, a year after three patrolmen were wounded by a man armed with a knife outside a Jewish community center in the southern city of Nice.
In January 2016, a man rammed his car into four soldiers guarding a mosque in the southeastern city of Valence.
The Paris prosecutors office, which has taken over the investigation of the Orly Airport attack, says the suspected attacker who was shot dead was not listed on the government’s database of terrorist suspects.
France maintains a database, known as the “S″ list, of people considered a potential threat to national security, which includes people suspected of plotting terrorist acts.
The prosecutors’ office says the man shot at Orly Airport was not in the database.
The head of the Paris airports company says searches of Orly Airport are complete and passengers who had been blocked aboard 13 flights are being unloaded.
Passengers aboard flights that landed at Orly as the drama was unfolding were prevented from immediately disembarking. But Augustin de Romanet, president of the ADP airport authority, says they are now being allowed off the flights.
He told BFM television that 15 other flights were diverted to Paris’ other main airport, Charles de Gaulle, because of the attack.
French authorities have established a rudimentary timeline for the attack on Saturday at Orly Airport:
—6:50 a.m.: The suspected attacker fires birdshot at police officers, wounding one in the face, when stopped for a traffic check. Flees, using a weapon to threaten a motorist and steal her car, later found at Orly Airport.
—8:30 a.m.: Attacker assaults patrol of three soldiers, all from French air force. Wrestles one soldier, a woman, to the ground, tries to take her weapon.
The investigation into the attack on soldiers guarding Paris’ Orly Airport, as well as a shooting 90 minutes earlier that targeted police north of Paris, has been taken over by anti-terrorism investigators.
The Paris prosecutors’ office confirms that its anti-terrorism section has taken over the investigation.
The French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, says the Orly Airport attacker assaulted a patrol of three soldiers, all from the air force, including a woman.
He says the attacker wrestled the woman to the floor and tried to take her weapon, but she managed to keep hold of it.
The minister says the two other patrolmen opened fire “to protect her” and the public in the airport.
French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux says the man shot dead at airport is the same as the one who “is linked with car hijacking” earlier in the morning in a Paris suburb.
Le Roux says the man who was not identified, earlier shot a police officer at a traffic stop before stealing the woman’s car at gunpoint. Le Roux said the gunman was known by police and intelligence
French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron has paid tribute to the French troops securing streets and sensitive sites in the country after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks.
Macron, an independent centrist, said in a speech on defense in Paris that the soldiers of the Sentinelle operation who were attacked in Orly Airport “have demonstrated one more time calm, control and professionalism.”
France’s Interior Ministry says no one else was injured at Paris’ Orly Airport when a man was shot to death after seizing a soldier’s weapon.
The ministry tweeted that “the events this morning at the airport caused no injuries.”
Explosives experts have finished checking the site, according to a tweet from the regional administration.
The interior minister and defense minister are en route to Orly, according to the national police.
Thousands of people are being evacuated and flights are being redirected.
Paris police are investigating whether an attack on a soldier at Orly Airport is linked to a shooting earlier Saturday north of Paris.
The Paris police office says a man fired at police officers with a gun that fired birdshot, wounding one in the face, when stopped for a police traffic check early Saturday morning.
The man then fled, threatening a motorist with a weapon to steal her car.
Police say that car was later found close to the Orly Airport.
The traffic stop was at 6:55 a.m., shortly before the attack at Orly.
— Associated Press Writer John Leicester
French national police say that only one man was involved in an attack on soldiers at Paris’ Orly Airport and reports of a possible second attacker are false.
A national police official said that about 3,000 people are being evacuated from Orly after the attack, in which the assailant was shot and killed.
Meanwhile, Paris police say a police officer was shot and injured during a road check in the town of Stains northeast of Paris on Saturday.
The national police official says so far there is no sign of any link between the Orly incident and the Stains shooting.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was authorized to be publicly named.
— Associated Press Writer Angela Charlton
Passengers at Paris’ Orly Airport describe gunshots and panic when a man was killed after seizing a weapon from a soldier guarding the site.
A witness identified only as Dominque said on BFM television: “The soldiers took aim at the man, who in turn pointed the gun he had seized at the two soldiers.”
Another man says on BFM that there was a group of three soldiers targeted, and they tried to calm the man who seized the weapon. Then the man said he heard two gunshots.
Another witness, identified as Patrick, said he was at the check-in counter when he saw someone come in from outside and the incident began.
A French journalist on a flight that landed from Nice told France-Info radio passengers are being kept on the plane and aren’t being allowed to disembark.
The Paris airport authority says Orly Airport is being entirely evacuated and all flights redirected after a man was shot dead after seizing a weapon from a soldier guarding the site.
An airport authority official says flights to and from Orly are being redirected to Charles de Gaulle airport.
The official said thousands of people are being evacuated from Orly.
A national police official says operations to check for explosives are underway at Orly after the Saturday incident.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was authorized to be publicly named.
French media reports said the man seized the weapon and tried to flee before being shot.
— Associated Press Writer Angela Charlton
French police say a man was shot to death after trying to seize the weapon of a soldier guarding Paris’ Orly Airport.
A national police official said the incident occurred Saturday morning at Orly, and the soldier is part of the Sentinelle special force installed around France to protect sensitive sites after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks.
No information about the slain man or any other injuries was available. The official was not authorized to be publicly named.
Police evacuated part of the airport and warned visitors in a tweet to avoid the airport while the police operation was underway.
The shooting came after a similar incident last month at the Louvre Museum. France remains under a state of emergency