Sarkozy caught in Israel airport security scare

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The French president and his wife were rushed off to his plane when a shot rang out as an Israeli policeman committed suicide at the airport.

25 June 2008

TEL AVIV - French President Nicolas Sarkozy was rushed off to his plane on Tuesday when a shot rang out as an Israeli policeman committed suicide during an airport departure ceremony.

"A border policeman committed suicide at Ben Gurion airport at the time when French President Sarkozy was about to leave Israel," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

Confusion over where the shots came from caused moments of panic and bodyguards rushed Sarkozy and first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to their plane at Ben Gurion airport.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres were escorted towards their armoured cars.

The police spokesman said the incident happened about 200 metres from where Sarkozy was standing alongside Olmert and Peres.

A government statement added that "emergency procedures were immediately activated" while the police said it had opened an investigation into the suicide.

Once it became evident there was no security risk, Olmert and Peres boarded the plane to bid farewell to Sarkozy, who had spent three days in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
They told Sarkozy the incident was not a terror attack, army radio reported.

Footage broadcast by Israeli television showed the French first lady, a model-turned-singer, running up the last steps of the plane's gangway escorted by bodyguards.

The French president kept his composure, calmly walking up the steps and briefly raising his hand in a farewell gesture to his hosts. The plane's doors were shut until the scare was over.

Other members of the French delegation, including Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, were also escorted to the plane by bodyguards.

Two women soldiers fainted on the tarmac.

[AFP / Expatica]

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