An Israeli guard on the perimeter of a farewell airport ceremony for French President Nicolas Sarkozy shot himself dead on Tuesday, causing a security stir but not endangering the visiting leader, police said.
“This was in no way an assassination attempt,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. “A border policeman … committed suicide during the farewell ceremony.”
Bodyguards hustled Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, into their plane at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport after the shot was heard. Other security men whisked Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert toward his car.
Olmert and Israeli President Shimon Peres, who was also at the scene, returned to the aircraft to bid the Sarkozys a final goodbye after it was established that the incident was over and posed no threat. The plane then departed.
According to Rosenfeld, the guard who shot himself was a paramilitary policeman and had been assigned to a security patrol at the airport.
Israel Radio said the guard was stationed 100 metres to 200 metres (yards) away from Sarkozy’s plane. Two women soldiers who witnessed the shooting were treated for shock, the radio said.
(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Dominic Evans)