French Police Officer, Arnaud Beltrame, killed in terror attack
France was in mourning on Saturday for a French security officer who died from gunshot wounds after voluntarily taking the place of a female hostage during a supermarket siege by an Islamist militant.
Arnaud Beltrame, 44, a gendarme who once served in Iraq, had been raced to hospital fighting for his life after being shot by the gunman during the siege at the Super U store in the southwestern town of Trebes near the Pyrenees mountains.
“He fell as a hero, giving up his life to halt the murderous outfit of a jihadist terrorist,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement shortly before dawn on Saturday.
Friday’s attacker was identified by authorities as Redouane Lakdim, a 25-year-old Moroccan-born French national from the city of Carcassonne, not far from Trebes, a tranquil town of about 5,000 people where he struck on Friday afternoon.
Flowers and messages in tribute to victim are seen in front of the Gendarmerie of Carcassonne, the day after a hostage situation in Trebes, France March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
Lakdim was known to authorities for drug-dealing and other petty crimes, but had also been under surveillance by security services in 2016-2017 for links to the radical Salafist movement, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said on Friday.
The attacker, whose rampage began when he fired on a group of police joggers and also shot the occupants of a car he stole, killed three people and injured 16 others on Friday, according to a government readout.
Beltrame’s death takes the number killed to four.
He was part of a team of gendarmes who were among the first to arrive at the supermarket scene; most of the people in the supermarket escaped after hiding in a cold storage room and then fleeing through an emergency exit.
He offered to trade places with a hostage the attacker was still holding, whereafter he took her place and left his mobile phone on a table, line open. When shots rang out, elite police stormed the building to kill the assailant. Police sources said Beltrame was shot three times.
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