Disneyland suspect ‘feared for safety’

Media captionLucy Williamson “Police are not treating this as terrorism”

A man arrested carrying two guns at a hotel near Disneyland Paris has told French police he was armed because he feared for his safety.

Initial investigations do not point to terrorism, a police source said.

The man’s bag triggered metal detectors as he entered the Hotel New York near the popular theme park. He was also carrying a Koran and ammunition.

France remains in a state of emergency after November’s deadly attacks by the Islamic State (IS) group in Paris.

Disneyland Paris said the weapons had been discovered during a security check. They then contacted police who arrested the man without a struggle.

“There was loads of security, there were sniffer dogs, which you wouldn’t see in any hotel and there was security as well,” Ronan Flaherty, who was staying at the premises at the time, told the BBC.

‘A mistake’

A woman believed to be the man’s partner was also detained but released when police realised they had got the wrong person.

Police are still seeking the man’s girlfriend.

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Image caption

The man was arrested entering the Hotel New York, close to the much-visited Paris theme park

The male suspect, reportedly a 28-year-old of European origin, was not known to security services.

He co-manages a brassiere in the Paris, a source close to the investigation told AFP news agency, where staff were incredulous at news of the arrest.

“For me, it’s a mistake,” said a member of the bar team.

Disneyland Paris

  • First opened in 1992 and located in Marne-la-Vallee, a town about 30km (18 miles) east of Paris
  • Had about 10 million visitors in 2014 and calls itself the most visited tourist destination in Europe
  • 92% of its guests are from Europe, with 49% from France, 16% from the UK and 9% from Spain.
  • Hosts about 1,000 business events each year
  • In July, the EU began an inquiry into the theme park, following accusations that UK and German customers were frozen out of certain promotions.

Sources: Disneyland Paris, European Commission, Global Attractions Attendance Report

French police appear to be treating the case as criminal rather than terror-related.

Disneyland Paris closed briefly after the Paris attacks but the theme park remained open following Thursday’s incident.

“We continue to work closely with the authorities and the safety and security of our guests and cast members is our utmost priority,” spokesman Francois Banon said.

President Francois Hollande is seeking to extend France’s state of emergency for another three months, despite opposition from human rights groups.

Earlier this week, EU policing agency Europol warned that IS was planning further attacks, with France and so-called “soft” targets at particular risk.

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