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Jihadist shot dead before rampage at Orly airport

A suspected Muslim extremist was shot and killed at Paris's Orly airport by soldiers. French prosecutors said the Arab shouted that he had wanted to "die for Allah". He was found carrying a Quran on his body.

Published: March 19, 2017, 7:16 am

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    Paris

    “I am here to die for Allah, there will be deaths,” the 39-year-old screamed, as he attempted to wrest an assault rifle from a young female air force member on duty. He held a pistol to the soldier’s head.

    “Put your weapons down, hands on your heads. I’m here to die for Allah. In any case, people are going to die,” Belgacem told two other soldiers on patrol, according to the Paris prosecutor. When the female soldier dropped to her knees, her colleagues were able to shoot and kill the attacker.

    Ziyed Ben Belgacem, a French passport-holder, shot and wounded a police officer, who had attempted to stop him at a checkpoint near Le Bourget, another airport near Paris. He then reportedly carjacked a vehicle, before setting off for Orly, one of the France’s busiest transport hubs.

    The assailant had shot at police after a routine traffic stop, injuring the officer. He highjacked the car at gunpoint and parked it at Orly. He also stopped by a bar he regularly frequented, firing more shots.

    An evacuation of a part of Orly airport was called, and several flights had to be rerouted to nearby Charles De Gaulle airport.

    Belgacem carried a can of petrol into the Orly terminal building, which he had flung down before a violent scuffle broke out with security personnel. The two soldiers that intervened, fired eight bullets in three bursts at the man, killing him instantly.

    The attacker’s brother and father, who had reportedly received messages minutes before the attacker’s death, have meanwhile been detained, and a cousin of Belgacem turned himself in to the police.

    A prosecutor told the media that Belgacem, who had been born in Paris, had been sentenced to five years for armed robbery and was given a three and a five-year term for drug trafficking. He had been know to law enforcement since 1998.

    His apartment was searched in the aftermath of the Paris attacks in 2015, but he was not placed on the priority File S, reserved for the most dangerous suspects. A police search found a machete and several grams of cocaine.

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