Radicalized man shot dead after attacking soldier at France's Orly airport

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/3/19 7:55:45

The radicalized man, identified as Zied Ben Belgacem, vowed "to die for Allah" when he was attacking a soldier earlier on Saturday at Orly airport, south Paris, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.

The 39-year-old French national tried to grab a Famas assault rifle from a young female solider of the air force who was patrolling the airport as part of the "Sentinelle" security operation before being shot dead, Molins added.

The man and the soldier fell to the ground for a short struggle before two members of the patrol opened fire, killing the attacker.

Ben Belgacem, known to the police for theft and drug offences, has been on the watch-list of intelligence services for radicalization, and he showed "determination to go to the end", the prosecutor said.

The man's choice of targeting soldiers and evidence on "a radicalization process in jail," justified the opening of a terrorism probe, according to authorities.

Investigation showed Ben Belgacem was also behind a shooting targeting security officers during a routine road check at about 6:55 a.m. (0555 GMT) Saturday at Stains northern Paris, before being involved in a carjacking in another Paris suburb Vitry where he also threatened customers of a bar.

No victims has been reported at Orly airport where 3,000 passengers were forced to evacuate and 178 flights have been cancelled and others diverted to Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris.

French President Francois Hollande on Saturday reiterated determination to "fight terrorism, defend the security of our compatriots and to ensure the protection of the territory."

He called for high vigilance after the incident which had shown, according to him, the need and the usefulness of the "Sentinelle" security operation launched in the wake of a series of shootings and explosion in Paris in November 2015 that left 130 victims.

The attack in a busy airport came few days after two separate assaults with one targeting the International Monetary Fund office in Paris and the other concerning a heavily-armed teen "fascinated by firearms" who injured four people at a high school in south France.

Despite emergency security measures imposed two years ago, fresh assaults put security issue on the spotlight during a presidential campaign where the far-rightists, advocating for though security and anti-immigration proposals, eye to make a surprise and snatch the first place in the race to the Elysee Palace.

"Our government is outdated, dazed, paralysed, like a rabbit in the headlights of a car", said far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, far-right presidential election, on Saturday during a meeting in Metz, east France. "The cowardice of the entire political class in face of Islamist fundamentalism...that cowardice that produced the results that we know and that we see today in Orly."

Last month, calm in French capital had been broken once again after an Egyptian, 29, attacked a group of soldiers near Louvre Museum before being shot and seriously wounded.

France, where about 230 people have been killed during terrorist attacks since 2015, is a top target of terrorist and extremist cells in response to its military offensive in Syria and Iraq.


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