Homeland security is the main talking point for all candidates hoping to become the next French president in May.
Two soldiers patrolling Orly airport in Paris have shot a man dead after he tackled their female colleague to the floor and tried to take her weapon, according to French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Witnesses said the Orly south terminal was evacuated following the shooting at around 8:30am local time (07:30 GMT) on Saturday.
Thousands of travelers were evacuated and at least 15 flights were diverted to the city’s other airport, Charles de Gaulle. No one else was hurt.
Al Jazeera’s Natasha Butler, reporting from Paris, said that there was a lot of confusion among the travellers.
“People didn’t know whether to come or go. One of the terminals has been reopened and I could see some people wheeling their bags towards that terminal. But the terminal where the incident happened has been shut,” she said.
The man, a known figure to French police and intelligence officials, had earlier in the day opened fire on a police officer during an identity check in the northern Paris suburb of Garges-les-Gonesse, according to Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux.
Then, Paris police said, he stole a woman’s car at gunpoint. It was found near Orly.
Police did not immediately provide a motive or identify the attacker, though the Paris prosecutor’s office said he was 39 and had a record of robbery and drug offenses.
The office said he did not appear in a French government database of people considered potential threats to national security.
The 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.
Francois Hollande, the French president, praised the courage and efficiency of troops and police following Saturday’s incidents.
In a written statement, Hollande reaffirmed the state’s “determination to act without respite to fight terrorism, defend our compatriots’ security and ensure the protection of the territory”.
The soldier from whom the man tried to take the weapon was part of Operation Sentinelle, a force of 7,000 troops deployed in the capital and other cities after the January 2015 Paris attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The force was reinforced after the assaults that left 130 people dead in Paris in November of that year.
A notice was posted on the Paris airports authority website urging passengers not to travel to Orly.
Budget airline easyJet said it expected interruptions and flight delays, adding that 46 of its flights were due to fly in and out of the airport on Saturday.
Orly is Paris’ second-biggest airport, behind Charles de Gaulle. It has both domestic and international flights, notably to destinations in Europe and Africa.