PARIS – Orly airport in Paris, which closed down on Saturday after a gunman was killed inside a terminal by a French army antiterrorist patrol, has resumed flight operations and is expected to dispatch by Sunday all remaining passengers that were grounded on Saturday.
According to the Paris Aeroport Twitter account, Orly’s South Terminal was slowly recovering its pace with one hundred volunteers in orange vests informing and assisting passengers inside Orly’s terminals.
According to Aeroports de Paris (AdP), Saturday’s closure affected 10,000 passengers out of 54,000 expected travelers.
AdP’s President Agustin de Romanet said airline traffic was now “fully recovered.”
De Romanet pointed out that around 100 passengers opted to sleep inside the airport as they had early flights to catch and suitable temporary bedding had been offered inside the terminal.
Airline companies also arranged for nearby hotel accommodation for some 200 passengers.
French authorities are now considering the next steps to ensure additional security to avoid a repeat of Saturday’s incident which may include random police checks although no decision has been taken yet.
Regarding Saturday’s attacker, French authorities have identified him as Zayed Ben Belgacem – a French citizen born in Paris – who after shooting a policewoman at a road check North of Paris, later attempted to steal a soldier’s weapon at Orly airport before being shot and killed by a military armed response.
As to the attacker’s relatives arrested Saturday, French authorities announced the release of Belgacem’s father, although his brother and a cousin – who walked into a police station to hand himself in – remain under arrest for further questioning, Paris prosecutor François Molins told EFE.
The Paris prosecutor also explained that after the first shootout at North of Paris, Belgacem called his father and his brother and said: “I have done something stupid, I have shot an officer.”
Police registered the aggressor’s apartment in Garge les Gonesse, close to where he shot the policewoman, and found a small amount of cocaine, so investigators are now trying to determine if the aggressor took drugs prior to the attack.
Belgacem had a criminal record for armed robbery and drug dealing and the French Intelligence services took an interest in him after he became radicalized while serving a prison sentence. However, a 2015 house search gathered no evidence and they dropped the investigation.
During the armed struggle with the French soldier inside the airport, Belgacem told the other two soldiers present “drop your weapons; I am here to die for Allah, and someone is going to die,” just before the French soldiers responded with lethal force.