Orly is Paris’ next biggest airport aside from the famous Charles de Gaulle. The attack on the fateful morning of March 18, 2017, brought mayhem to the operations of the airport which caters to numerous domestic and international flights. Panic and pandemonium was all over, there were no flights, traffic was horrible, and planes were locked down.
Authorities revealed that there were approximately 3,000 people who were escorted to safety out of the airport that day. Countless passengers were confined for hours aboard 13 flights that were blocked in landing areas, and at least 15 flights were diverted to the Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The attacker, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, a suspected Islamic extremist was yelling that he wanted to kill and die for Allah! He attacked a female French soldier and was able to get her assault rifle, authorities said. The other colleagues of the soldier shot and were able to kill Belgacem before he could even fire the weapon in the busy airport terminal in France.
The Orly airport attack forced the terminals to shut down and prompted authorities to immediately evacuate passengers, while countless others were trapped aboard flights that had just landed in Orly. The dangerous ordeal lasted for about 90 minutes and was regarded as a destructive criminality across the French capital and in one of France’s busiest airports to date.
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Paris’ prosecutors’ office said that Ziyed Ben Belgacem had criminal records of drug offenses and robbery. He is just out on bail and was banned from leaving France. The prosecutor’s office further said that Ziyed Ben Belgacem was identified to be influenced and became a radicalized Muslim during his detention in the year 2011-2012. Belgacem’s house was among those who were heavily searched in November 2015 in light of the suicide bombing and gun attacks that ended up killing some 130 people in Paris, France.
An investigation is currently under way. French President Francois Hollande stated that the investigators will determine whether or not the alleged attacker had some terrorist plot behind the attack. He, however ruled out any link to the attack and the forthcoming two-round of presidential elections in April-May, he further stated that France has been closely monitoring and constantly fighting extremist threats for decades.
The attack last Saturday was very similar to the incident that occurred at the Louvre Museum in Paris where an Egyptian attacked the soldiers manning the museum. He was eventually shot, and taken into custody by the authorities.