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Travellers walk on the highway to the Orly airport, south of Paris, Saturday, March, 18, 2017. A man was shot to death Saturday after trying to seize the weapon of a soldier guarding Paris' Orly Airport, prompting a partial evacuation of the terminal, police said. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

The Paris airport attacker was known to anti-terror forces for suspected Islamic extremism


UPDATE 10:09am |  The Paris prosecutors' office says the 39-year-old suspected attacker who was shot and killed at Orly Airport had already crossed authorities' radar for suspected Islamic extremism.

Prosecutors say Saturday that the suspect's house was among scores searched in November 2015 in the immediate aftermath of suicide bomb-and-gun attacks that killed 130 people in Paris. Those searches targeted people with suspected radical leanings.

After the airport attack on Saturday, the suspect's father and brother were detained by police for questioning part of standard police operations in such cases.

French President Francois Hollande says investigators will determine whether the Orly Airport attacker "had a terrorist plot behind him."

He says the attack shows that France's policy of having military patrols guarding public sites "is essential," and that the nation "must remain extremely vigilant."

Original story

Soldiers at Paris' busy Orly Airport shot and killed a man who wrestled one of their colleagues to the ground and tried to steal her rifle Saturday, officials said.

No one else was hurt, but thousands of travelers were evacuated and at least 15 flights were diverted to the city's other airport, Charles de Gaulle.

Police did not immediately provide a motive for the attack.

 The Paris prosecutor's office said its anti-terrorism division was handling the investigation and had taken the attacker's father and brother into custody for questioning.

The attack further rattled France, which remains under a state of emergency after attacks over the past two years that have killed 235 people.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the attacker, whom he did not identify, assaulted three Air Force soldiers who were patrolling the airport.

He said the soldier who was attacked managed to hold on to her rifle and the two soldiers she was with opened fire to protect her and the public.

It happened around 8:30 a.m. Paris time in a public area of the airport's South Terminal, before passengers must show tickets or go through security.

Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said the attacker had stolen a woman's car earlier in the morning in a northern Paris suburb.

 Le Roux said police and intelligence services know who he is, though the Paris prosecutor's office said he did not appear in a French government database of people considered potential threats to national security.

In the earlier incident, the Paris police office said, a man fired birdshot at officers during a traffic stop, wounding one in the face. He then fled and stole the woman's car after threatening her with a weapon. That car was later found near Orly.

 Officials said about 3,000 people were evacuated from Orly, where passengers told of gunshots and panic. Traffic was jammed near the airport and people wheeled suitcases down the road.

People on 13 flights that landed around the time the drama was unfolding had to stay on planes for several hours. Augustin de Romanet, president of the ADP airport authority, said they were allowed off around noon, once a search of the airport was complete.

In the airport, a witness identified only as Dominque said on BFM television: "The soldiers took aim at the man, who in turn pointed the gun he had seized at the two soldiers."

Another man said on BFM that three soldiers were targeted, and they tried to calm the man who seized the weapon. Then the man said he heard two gunshots. The soldier who was attacked is part of the Sentinelle special force installed around France to protect sensitive sites after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks.

The force includes 7,500 soldiers, half deployed in the Paris region and half in the provinces.

--The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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