ORLY, France (AP) — A man was shot dead Saturday after seizing a rifle from a soldier guarding Paris’ Orly Airport, police and witnesses said. No one else in the busy terminal was hurt, but thousands of travelers were evacuated and flights were diverted to the city’s other airport.
Paris police were investigating whether the incident was linked to a shooting earlier Saturday during a traffic stop north of Paris. The Paris police office says a man fired birdshot at officers who stopped him, wounding one in the face. He then fled and stole a woman’s car after threatening her with a weapon. That car was found near Orly.
French national police said that only one man was involved in the airport attack and denied reports of a possible second attacker. No information about the slain man or any other injuries was available a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to be publicly named.
The official said about 3,000 people were being evacuated from Orly, where passengers told of gunshots and panic.
A witness identified only as Dominque said on BFM television: “The soldiers took aim at the man, who in turn pointed the gun he had seized at the two soldiers.”
Another man said on BFM that three soldiers were targeted, and they tried to calm the man who seized the weapon. Then the man said he heard two gunshots.
The soldier who was attacked is part of the Sentinelle special force installed around France to protect sensitive sites after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks. The force includes 7,500 soldiers, half deployed in the Paris region and half in the provinces.
Orly is Paris’ second-biggest airport behind Charles de Gaulle, serving domestic and international flights, notably to destinations in Europe and Africa.
The shooting came after a similar incident last month at the Louvre Museum in which an Egyptian man attacked soldiers guarding the site and was shot and wounded.
Saturday’s attack further rattled France, which remains under a state of emergency after attacks over the past two years that have killed 235 people.