French-born national Ziyed Ben Belgacem was shot dead after he attempted to snatch a military policewoman’s gun inside the French capital’s main airport this morning, at about 8.30am. Investigators are still trying to understand what motivated Saturday’s assault by 39-year-old Ziyed Ben Belgacem, which led to a major security scare and the temporary closure of the capital’s second-busiest airport.
The attacker had earlier shot a police officer in the face during a traffic stop in a Paris suburb and then stole a woman’s car at gunpoint to head to Orly. At the airport, the man tried to grab the weapon of a Sentinel soldier, a special force created after the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015. The attempted attack on Saturday echoed a similar incident that took place a little more than a month ago, when a man launched an attack on Sentinel soldiers outside the Louvre museum on Feb. 3. Belgacem was then shot dead by two other soldiers before he could do anything.
“With a pistol in his right hand and a bag over his shoulder, he grabbed (the soldier) with his left arm, made her move backwards by three to four meters (yards), positioning her as a shield, and pointed his revolver at her forehead,” Paris prosecutor Francois Molins.
The attacker had been investigated in 2015 over suspicions he had radicalised while serving jail time, but his name did not feature on the list of those thought to pose a high risk.