Paris baggage handler 'had bomb ready to use'


A baggage handler at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris was arrested with an arsenal of weapons and explosives and had a bomb that was "ready to use," investigators said this afternoon.

Mr Abderazak Besseghir, a 27-year-old French citizen of Algerian descent, was apprehended by police at the airport late Saturday after a tip-off from an off-duty soldier who spotted him handling what looked like a firearm.

The man's job as baggage handler gave him clearance to several zones at Charles de Gaulle, one of Europe's busiest airports and the point of departure late last year for confessed "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.

Sources close to the inquiry said Mr Besseghir had five bars of plastic explosives and two detonators in the trunk of his car that together constituted an explosive device that was "ready to use".

Police also found an automatic pistol and a submachine gun stashed in the vehicle. Police searched Mr Besseghir's apartment in the northeastern Paris suburb of Bondy as well as the home of one of Mr Besseghir's friends in the Paris region, and arrested his father, two brothers and a family friend, they said.

All five men were still in custody today and were being questioned by anti-terrorist officials. Investigators said they had not yet established a motive but were "seriously considering" that Mr Besseghir might have been about to launch a terrorist attack, although they had yet to identify an intended target.

Other theories, including that of a more general criminal scheme such as gun smuggling or banditry, have not been ruled out, the sources said.