PARIS - French security soldiers shot and killed a man who tried to grab an officer's weapon at Paris Orly airport on Saturday, prompting officials to divert flights and partially evacuate the facility, according to authorities.
The 39-year-old suspect earlier fired a pellet gun at a police officer during a traffic stop in northern Paris and stole a car, which was later found near the airport.
The Paris prosecutors office, which was heading up investigation into the Orly attack, says the suspect was not listed on the government’s database of terrorist suspects or people deemed a threat to national security. However, they note his house was among scores searched in November 2015 following terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people
Without identifying the suspect by name, prosecutors also said his criminal record contained nine unspecified infractions.
French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the man was shot and killed after assaulting a three-person patrol of the Sentinel special force, which has been deployed around France at sensitive sites after a string of terrorist attacks.
The minister said the suspect wrestled with a female soldier and tried to seize her weapon, which she managed to hold onto. One police officer said the man tried to strangle the soldier, France24 reported.
Le Drian said the other two soldiers opened fire “to protect her” and the public.
Paris' anti-terrorism section is investigating, the prosecutors' office confirmed.
Airport authorities, who asked the public to avoid the area, said Orly was partially evacuated and flights diverted to Charles de Gaulle airport.
The incident comes a month after French soldiers opened fire on a man wielding a machete who shouted "Allahu Akbar!" as he attacked them near the Louvre museum in Paris. An Egyptian interior ministry official confirmed the identity of that attacker to the Associated Press as Egyptian-born Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy.
Orly is Paris’ second-biggest airport after Charles de Gaulle. It serves domestic and international flights, notably to destinations in Europe and Africa.