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Airport shooting reignites security debate before French election

Man killed while trying to steal soldier's gun at Paris Orly Airport

It was this second auto, which security officials found in the parking lot, that allowed authorities to link the shooting in Garges-lès-Gonesse to the Orly airport attack hours later, said Molins.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Ben Belgacem appeared to have become caught up in a "sort of headlong flight that became more and more destructive".

The suspect, who spent time in prison for drugs and armed robbery, had his home searched in 2015 after a terror attack in Paris that killed 130 people because of his suspected connection to radical Islam, French authorities said.

Molins told reporters thata container filled with petrol was found in the dead man's backpack, along with a Koran, some cigarettes and a lighter. He tried and ultimately succeeded in grabbing the female soldier's assault rifle, at which point the two other soldiers shot and killed him.

No one else in the busy terminal was hurt, but thousands of travellers were evacuated and flights were diverted to the city's other airport. "And, under the influence of alcohol and cannabis, this is what happens", the father told French TV.

According to soldiers, the attacker yelled: "Put down your weapons!"

The attacker was known to police and intelligence services, and was involved in a shooting at a police traffic stop north of Paris that morning, Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said at a news conference.

"He told me, "I ask for your forgiveness, I've screwed up with a gendarme".

An autopsy on Belgacem will go ahead on Sunday, including a toxicology examination to detect whether he was intoxicated with alcohol or drugs.

A brother and cousin of Belgacem were also questioned by police and then released on Sunday, the judicial source said.

Le Drian had said the soldier kept hold of her weapon.

French president Francois Hollande later announced that the investigation into the attack was being handled by anti-terrorism prosecutors, and that subsequent anti-terrorism operations were already underway following the incident.

But he ruled out any link between the attack and the two-round French presidential election in April and May, noting that France has been battling extremist threats for years. The man had earlier fled the suburb of Stains on Saturday in a auto stolen from a woman at gunpoint after opening fire on officers, injuring one, during an identity check.

"The air traffic is fairly normal", a spokesman for the Paris airport authority said last morning.

The fearsome drama that caused no injuries aside from the lightly wounded traffic police officer further rattled France, which remains under a state of emergency after attacks in the past two years that have killed 235 people.