PARIS (AFP) – Flights at Paris’ Orly airport were returning to normal yesterday a day after a man triggered a major security alert and travel chaos when he attacked a soldier before being shot dead.
Anti-terror investigators yesterday released the father of the assailant but were continuing to hold his brother and cousin as they sought to build a profile of Ziyed Ben Belgacem, a 39-year-old French national.
All three family members had made contact with the police themselves, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a press conference late on Saturday.
Molins said Ben Belgacem grabbed a female soldier and put a gun to her head, seizing her assault rifle.
“Put your weapons down, hands on your heads. I’m here to die for god. In any case, people are going to die,” the attacker told the troops in Molins’ account of the attack.
He tried to use the soldier as a human shield but she dropped to her knees, giving her two colleagues an opportunity to shoot him.
Ben Belgacem was carrying a petrol can in a backpack, Molins said. Officials say he had a string of criminal convictions and was previously investigated for links to extremism.
An autopsy is to be carried out to determine if he was under the effects of alcohol or drugs during the attack, the sources said.
A small amount of cocaine and a machete were found during a search of his apartment in the northern Paris suburb of Garges-les-Gonesse on Saturday afternoon.
Molins said Ben Belgacem had also fired at police in Garges-les-Gonesse earlier on Saturday, slightly injuring one officer in the head.
His father and brother told investigators he had contacted them an hour and a half after that incident, telling them he had ‘done something stupid’.
His 35-year-old cousin had also met with the suspect in a bar on Friday night.