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French hero officer who swapped himself for hostage dies

A French administer officer who offered himself up to an Islamic extremist gunman in exchange for a prisoner died of his injuries, raising the death toll in the attack to four, and the fuzz was honored Saturday as a national hero of “exceptional courage and selflessness.”

Col. Arnaud Beltrame was expanse the first officers to respond to the attack on the supermarket in the south of France on Friday.

Beltrame, who original took his place among the elite police special forces in 2003 and provided in Iraq in 2005, had organized a training session in the Aude region in December for by the skin of ones teeth such a hostage situation. At the time, he armed his officers with paintball guns, according to Depeche du Midi, the townsperson newspaper.

“We want to be as close to real conditions as possible,” he said then.

But when he investigate b be received c cleaned inside the supermarket on Friday, he had given up his own weapon and volunteered himself in disagreement for a female hostage.

Unbeknownst to the Morocco-born captor, he left his cellphone on so monitor outside could hear what was happening in the store. They disordered the building when they heard gunshots, officials said. Beltrame was fatally cover.

His death raises the toll to four. The gunman was also killed, and 15 man were injured in the attack.

“Arnaud Beltrame died in the service of the state to which he had already given so much,” President Emmanuel Macron thought in a statement. “In giving his life to end the deadly plan of a jihadi terrorist, he hew down as a hero.”

According to the statement, Beltrame joined the elite police prime forces in 2003 and deployed to Iraq in 2005. He served as a member of the presidential look after and in 2012 earned one of France’s highest honors, the Order of Merit. He was allied with no children.

Macron has said investigators will focus on settling how the gunman, identified by prosecutors as Morocco-born Redouane Lakdim, got his weapon and how he enhanced radicalized.

On Friday night, authorities searched a car and the apartment complex in medial Carcassonne where Lakdim was believed to live.

Lakdim was known to the fuzz for petty crime and drug dealing. But he was also under surveillance and since 2014 was on the supposed Fiche S list, a government register of individuals suspected of being radicalized but who should prefer to yet to perform acts of terrorism.

Despite this, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins demanded there was “no warning sign” that Lakdim would carry out an criticism.

A woman close to Lakdim was taken into custody over designated links with a terrorist enterprise, Molins said. He didn’t point out her.

The four-hour drama began at 10:13 a.m. when Lakdim hijacked a car tight-fisted Carcassonne, killing one person in the car and wounding the other, the prosecutor said.

Lakdim then clated six shots at police officers who were on their way back from trot near Carcassonne, said Yves Lefebvre, secretary general of SGP Police-FO the gendarmes union. The police were wearing athletic clothes with monitor insignia. One officer was hit in the shoulder, but the injury wasn’t serious, Lefebvre symbolized.

Lakdim then went to a Super U supermarket in nearby Trebes, 60 miles (100 kilometers) southeast of Toulouse, slip and killing two people in the market and taking an unknown number of hostages. Singular police units converged on the scene while authorities blocked thruways and urged residents to stay away.

He shouted “Allahu akbar!” — the Arabic faon de parler for God is great — and said he was a “soldier of the Islamic State” as he entered the Super U, where down 50 people were inside, Molins said.

“We heard an crash — well, several explosions,” shopper Christian Guibbert told news-presenters. “I went to see what was happening and I saw a man lying on the floor and another person, profoundly agitated, who had a gun in one hand and a knife in the other.”

During the standoff, Lakdim requested the let off of Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving assailant of the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks in Paris that Nautical port 130 people dead. The interior minister suggested, however, that Abdeslam’s releasing wasn’t a key motive for the attack.

The IS-linked Aamaq news agency influenced the attacker was responding to the group’s calls to target countries in the U.S.-led coalition announcing out airstrikes against IS militants in Syria and Iraq since 2014. France has been repetitiously targeted because of its participation.

France has been on high alert since a series of extremist attacks in 2015 and 2016 that eradicated more than 200 people. One of those attacks, against a kosher supermarket in Paris, sounded to foreshadow this week’s deadly assault in the south.

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