A man shot dead by French soldiers at Paris Orly airport on Saturday shouted he was there to "die for Allah" and tried to seize a soldier's assault rifle, apparently intending to open fire on passengers, a prosecutor said.
The latest in a series of attacks in France forced the evacuation of France's second-busiest airport and thrust security back to the forefront of France's presidential election campaign.
The attacker, named as Ziyed Ben Belgacem, arrived at Orly airport on Saturday morning, threw down a bag containing a can of petrol and seized hold of a woman air force member who was part of a military patrol at the airport, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.
|Emergency services at Orly airport southern terminal after a shooting incident near Paris, France March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier .
Using the servicewoman as a shield, he put his air pistol to her head and shouted at other soldiers with her: "Put down your guns. Put your hands on your head. I am here to die for Allah. In any case, there will be deaths."
The other soldiers then shot and killed Belgacem.
Molins said the assailant, who tried to grab the woman's Famas assault rifle, seemed bent on carrying out a serious attack.
"Given the violence that is shown in the (CCTV) pictures ... you sense that he was determined to go through with it," Molins told a news conference. "Everything leads one to believe he wanted to seize the Famas so that there were deaths and then to fire at people."
On his body, police found a Koran and 750 euros in cash. At his home, they found several grams of cocaine, a machete and some foreign currency, Molins said.
Prosecutors are investigating a number of terrorism-related offences, including attempted murder.
Belgacem's choice of target and evidence that he had been radicalized justified launching a terrorism investigation, Molins said. Reuters