Paris Orly Airport Temporarily Closed After Shooting

Mar 18, 2017

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Approximately 3,000 people were evacuated from Paris Orly (ORY) airport and flights were temporarily suspended earlier today when a man attacked a soldier on patrol in the south terminal and attempted to grab her weapon. The attacker was shot and killed by two other soldiers during the attack.

The man, identified to the Associated Press as Ziyed Ben Belgacem, had been previously identified by French authorities for suspected Islamic extremism and had a criminal record of drug and robbery offenses, but was not on a watch list. He had been stopped at a checkpoint in the Paris suburbs earlier in the morning, where he fired on officers with a pellet gun. He then stole a vehicle, drove to the airport and attacked the military patrol. The soldiers were not injured and a police officer in the earlier checkpoint attack suffered only minor injuries.

Passengers were evacuated from Paris Orly airport after a man attacked a military patrol and was shot dead. Photo courtesy CHRISTOPHE SIMON/Getty Images.

All flights in and out of Orly were halted and a number of incoming aircraft were diverted to nearby Charles De Gaulle (CDG) airport, while an additional 13 planes that had already landed were held on the airport tarmac. The south terminal was evacuated and passengers in the west terminal were confined while a bomb squad searched the facility for explosives. Roads around the airport were also closed.

Orly is the second largest airport in France, handling over 31 million passengers in 2016 and around 800 flights on a typical Saturday. It is located eight miles outside of the French capital and handles international flights from multiple continents, but remains the busiest airport for domestic traffic in the country.

The airport’s west terminal reopened around 1pm local time and the south terminal began reopening around 3pm local time.

H/T: BBC and The New York Times

Featured image courtesy of CHRISTOPHE SIMON/Getty Images.

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