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Wed, Jun

Drugs and alcohol found in Orly airport gunman's blood

Riot police patrol inside Orly airport, south of Paris

Blood tests have revealed that a gunman who attacked soldiers at Orly airport in Paris on Saturday had consumed drugs and alcohol.

Ziyed Ben Belgacem, 39, was killed after he put a gun to a soldier's head saying he wanted to "die for Allah".

Paris prosecutors' office said toxicology tests during his autopsy found traces of cocaine and cannabis.

Belgacem also had an alcohol level of 0.93g per litre of blood, nearly twice the legal limit for driving in France.

He is said to have been radicalised in prison, and was on a police watch-list.

He was involved in a shooting and then a carjacking on Saturday before he attacked a military patrol at Orly, Paris's second-biggest airport.

Belgacem's criminal record included convictions for armed robbery and drugs offences, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters late on Saturday.

In an interview with French radio Europe 1 on Sunday, a man identified as his father said Belgacem wasn't a practising Muslim and drank alcohol.

"My son was not a terrorist. He never prayed, and he drank. But under the effects of alcohol and cannabis, this is where one ends up," the father said.

Europe 1 did not give his name.

The father was released from police custody overnight on Saturday, while Belgacem's brother and a cousin were released later on Sunday.

 

The sequence of events

Early on Saturday morning, Belgacem was stopped at a checkpoint in Garges-les-Gonesse, north of Paris.

He fired at police with a pellet gun before escaping in a car that was later found abandoned.

Police say he then stole a car at gunpoint from a woman at Vitry, south of Paris. That car was later found at Orly airport.

 

Sequence of events

Belgacem arrived at the airport and attacked a military patrol in the south terminal.

He tried to seize a servicewoman's automatic weapon, put his gun to her head and said: "I'm here to die for Allah. In any case people are going to die."

He was then shot dead by two other soldiers.

A copy of the Koran was found on his body, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins added.

The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says the picture is building up of a man on the criminal fringes of society, who also consorted with Islamist radicals.

The attack came at a sensitive time. France has presidential elections starting next month and remains under a state of emergency.

The soldiers at Orly were part of Operation Sentinel - involving thousands of soldiers deployed to provide back-up to the police after the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015 and the Paris attacks of November 2015.