Arnaud Beltrame, a French policeman who volunteered to take the place of a hostage in a siege by an Islamist terrorist of a supermarket in Trebes, southern France, on Friday, has died of bullet injuries.
Le lieutenant-colonel Arnaud Beltrame nous a quittés.
Mort pour la patrie.
Jamais la France n’oubliera son héroïsme, sa bravoure, son sacrifice.
Le coeur lourd, j’adresse le soutien du pays tout entier à sa famille, ses proches et ses compagnons de la @Gendarmerie de l’Aude. pic.twitter.com/I1h8eO7f9a
— Gérard Collomb (@gerardcollomb) March 24, 2018
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the attacker was Redouane Lakdim, 26 a petty criminal and drug dealer. Lakdim acted alone, starting early Friday morning near the city of Carcassonne, stealing a car and killing its owner. Later, in a supermarket in Trebes, he took customers and employees hostage.
Officer Beltrame then offered himself up to the gunman in exchange for a female hostage. He kept his cellphone on, enabling police outside to follow the events inside the supermarket. When they heard shots, the police stormed the supermarket and killed Lakdim.
French police said they Lakdim had already been” under surveillance when he suddenly decided to act.” According to BFM TV, the terrorist was demanding the release of Salah Abdeslam, a major suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks where 130 were murdered.
Deutsche Welle cited the ISIS news agency Amaq, which claimed responsibility for the attack, as retaliation for France’s participation in the US-led international coalition that’s been hitting ISIS in Syria and Iraq since 2014.
“Our country has suffered an Islamist terrorist attack,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday. Macron also praised the fallen officer Beltrame, who had served a stint in Iraq. The president said that he “fell as a hero, giving up his life to halt the murderous escapade of a jihadi terrorist.”