Paris Orly airport shooting: Man shot dead by French police after seizing gun from soldier

Lizzie Dearden

A man has been shot dead after attempting to seize a soldier's gun at Paris Orly airport, sparking an evacuation and severe flight disruption.

French media reports said the suspect launched the suspected terror attack at the airport's south terminal after targeting a counter-terror patrol.

"The man succeeded in seizing the weapon of a soldier," Pierre-Henry Brandet added. "He was quickly neutralised by the security forces."

French armed police secure the area at Paris Orly airport on 18 March (AFP/Getty Images)

The attempted attack triggered a red alert sent locally via the French government's Saip terror warning system.

No one else was injured in the incident at 8.30am local time (7.30am GMT), which came little over an hour after shots were fired at police by an unknown gunman in a northern Paris suburb.

A police source told Reuters the same man, described as a radicalised Muslim known to security services, carried out both attacks.

“A police road check took place in Stains (northern Paris) this morning at 7am. It turned bad and the individual shot at the officers before fleeing,” he added.

“This same man - a radicalised Muslim known to intelligence services and the justice system - then took a Famas (assault weapon) from a soldier at Orly's southern terminal ..before being shot dead by a soldier.”

"We were waiting in line to check in for a flight to Tel Aviv when we heard three or four gunshots nearby," 54-year-old Franck Lecam told AFP.

"There were police, emergency services, soldiers running in all directions.

"One of the security officials told us it happened near gates 37-38, for Turkish Airlines flights."

The airport was evacuated as security operations continued, with France's national police urging people not to cross the security perimeter.

Bomb squads and armed police were sent into the building to sweep for explosives.

A notice was posted on the Paris airports authority website urging passengers not to travel to Orly, with diversions and delays expected.

Air traffic was suspended at Orly airport's south and west terminals as operations continued.

Traffic jams were also reported in the area, with police urging people not to drive towards the airport amid road closures.

Investigators were probing a possible link to shots fired at police officers in the northern Paris suburb of Stains at 7.15am local time (6.15am GMT), Le Parisien reported.

Gunshots were fired towards a checkpoint from a person in a Renault Clio, which was later abandoned for another car that was found at Orly airport.

BFMTV said sources indicated both shootings were part of the same attack, but there was no official confirmation.

The soldier was part of Operation Sentinel - a security initiative seeing troops deployed in combat uniforms around high profile sites including the Eiffel Tower since the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

France remains on high alert following a string of terror attacks directed and inspired by Isis, which has directed its followers to carry out opportunistic attacks on security forces and civilians in Europe.

A parcel bomb believed to have been sent by Greek anarchists exploded at the International Monetary Fund's offices in Paris on Thursday, on the same day a student opened fire at a school in Grasse.