A man attempting to seize a security patrol soldier’s weapon inside a crowded terminal at Paris’ Orly Airport this morning was shot dead by fellow members of the patrol. There were no other people injured. The attacker, who was known to authorities, earlier in the morning had shot a police officer before stealing a car which he then drove to Orly. An investigation has been launched by France’s anti-terrorism officials.
French 24-hour news channels began and have continued blanket coverage following the incident at 8:30 AM local time. BBC Worldwide and CNN International initially appeared to continue with regular programming before carrying reports as further details emerged.
About 3,000 people were evacuated from the Orly Sud terminal where the shooting occurred. While it is the capital’s 2nd largest, Orly Airport is familiar as a hub connecting Paris to the south of France. Today’s incident comes just two weeks before the annual Mip-TV conference in Cannes, and two months before the Cannes Film Festival.
Air traffic at Orly has been suspended and incoming flights re-routed to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Orly remains closed until further notice.
The story continued to unfold throughout the morning as more information became available. The attacker had at 6:50 AM been stopped for a routine security check in Stains in the north of Paris. During the check, he fired at a police officer who is currently being treated for injuries which have been characterized as non-life-threatening. The man then carjacked a vehicle in Vitry-sur-Seine to the south east of Paris which he is believed to have driven to Orly. The Air Force soldiers involved in the incident at the airport are members of the elite Sentinelle force that patrols public venues and sensitive areas while the country remains in a state of emergency.
France has seen several terrorist attacks in the past few years including the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a subsequent hostage situation in January 2015 which left 17 dead; the November 2015 Paris Attacks which killed 130 people; and the events in Nice last summer which resulted in more than 80 fatalities when a truck drove into a crowd on Bastille Day. Just last month, a French soldier shot and wounded a man wielding a machete and carrying two packs on his back as he tried to enter Paris’ Louvre museum.
Minister of the Interior Bruno Le Roux told reporters outside Orly this morning that France’s ongoing state of emergency is “justified.”