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5TH LEAD Paris prosecutor: Airport attacker said he wanted 'to die for Allah' By Christian Boehmer, dpa

Europe
18.03.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Paris (dpa) - A man who was shot dead after attacking soldiers at Paris‘s second-largest airport on Saturday had said he wanted "to die for Allah," according to an anti-terrorism prosecutor.

The 39-year-old man called out "I am here to die for Allah" as he lunged at soldiers on patrol at Paris‘s Orly Airport, Francois Molins said at a press conference.

The specialist prosecutor added that the assailant had vowed that there would be deaths.

The soldiers shot him dead early Saturday after he tackled their female colleague and tried to take her weapon.

The man wrestled the soldier to the floor at Orly Airport‘s South Terminal, but she kept a grasp on her weapon, and her two comrades opened fire to defend her and those around them, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said earlier Saturday.

No one aside from the perpetrator was injured in the attack, after which 3,000 people were taken to safety.

"I saw the terrorist and the policeman [sic] on the ground, and we heard shots," Jean-Pierre, a retiree, told dpa. "They told us to evacuate. There was no panic."

France has been on high alert after suffering terrorist attacks in Paris, Nice and elsewhere over the last two years, leaving at least 238 people dead.

Following the coordinated attacks around Paris in November 2015, the French government declared a state of emergency that was extended in December for the fifth time and will remain in force until July 2017.

The state prosecutors office in Paris said its anti-terrorism unit had taken over an investigation of the incident - a move that Mollins said was justified at the press conference later in the day.

The man was known to police and intelligence officials and had also previously been flagged as potentially radicalized.

Earlier in the day, he had opened fire on a police officer during an identity check in the northern Paris suburb of Garges-les-Gonesse, injuring one, Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said.

He later took control of a vehicle in Vitry-sur-Seine and threatened individuals at a bar, Le Roux said.

No explosives had been found on the man, a French Interior Ministry spokesman said.

News agency AFP reported that French investigators had detained the father and brother of the suspect.

The atmosphere at the airport was mostly calm following the attack, even as police convoys with wailing sirens moved slowly around the grounds and a fire service helicopter circled overhead.

"We saw the bomb squad arriving, the black vans," Michelle, a pensioner whose son had brought her to the airport for a holiday in Tunisia, told dpa. "It was all blocked, at first we thought there had been an accident."

Air traffic partially resumed at Orly after flights had been suspended or rerouted to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

The incident at Orly comes nearly one year after three suicide bombers attacked the Brussels international airport and an underground station in the Belgian capital, leaving 32 people dead.

 

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