By Christopher Mazzacane, International News Writer
Early on Saturday, March 18, a 39 year old French national by the name of Ziyed Ben Belgacem was shot and killed after he wielded a gun at the Orly Airport in Paris. According to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins and as reported by AFP, Mr. Belgacem grabbed the gun of a soldier in the airport and held it to her head.
It is believed he then attempted to use the soldier as a shield as he used her weapon to shoot at others in the airport. During the attack he yelled, “Put your weapons down, hands on your heads. I’m here to die for Allah. In any case people are going to die.” After this the attacker used the assault rifle to shoot at police and guards at a security check point. He was then shot. No one else was hurt during the attack. Prior to the attack, the French citizen had been known to French anti-terror forces as a possible radical. It is believed Mr. Belgacem was radicalized while in prison for non-terror related crimes.
France has been on a high terror alert since January 2015 when the country saw a terror attack that killed 230 people. Since then the country has been operating under a state of emergency. French President, François Hollande has said he expects this alert level to continue for the foreseeable future.
Many of Mr. Belgacem’s family members, including his father and brother, have now been detained for questioning. It was reported by The Independent, that the attacker sent a text to them saying, “I screwed up, I shot the police.” No information has been released as to any information or connection of these family members to the shooting, only that police were detaining them.
The airport was evacuated after the shooting. Police and security forces swept the airport for the possibility of explosives or other attackers, none were found.
Operations were suspended or restricted for much of the day on March 18. These restrictions were lifted by late Saturday afternoon.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 21st print edition.
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