Memorial for French terror attack victims

28 March, 2018, 01:40 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Memorial for French terror attack victims

The pope has condemned the attacks in southern France, while lauding the "heroic act" of the French policeman who died after taking the place of a supermarket employee held hostage by an Islamic extremist.

Arnaud Beltrame, who once served in Iraq, had been raced to hospital fighting for his life after the siege in which he took the place of a female hostage at the Super U store in the town of Trebes, near the Pyrenees mountains that divide France and Spain.

The gunman, identified by prosecutors as Redouane Lakdim, who went on a shooting spree and took several people hostage, was killed and a second suspect has been arrested.

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

Some 26,000 individuals suspected of posing a security risk to France are on the Fiche S watch list, of whom about 10,000 are believed to have been radicalised, sometimes in Salafist mosques, online or overseas.

France has been on high terror alert since the attacks, which left more than 200 people dead.

The gunman who shot dead three hostages in a French supermarket has been pictured.

Investigators found notes at Lakdim's home which referred to IS, a legal source said, including a hand-written letter in which he claimed allegiance to the jihadi group. One of the officers was shot in the shoulder but the injury is not life-threatening, a police spokesman told the news service.

The 18-year-old woman, who has been in police custody since Friday evening, was under surveillance by intelligence services, one source said.

"He saved lives and honoured his colleagues and his country", Mr Macron said of the officer.

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The man first hijacked a vehicle in Carcassonne, killing a passenger and injuring the driver, before shooting a policeman.

French law enforcement officials in Carcassonne said the suspect claimed to be part of the Islamic State, according to Le Monde.

"He fell as a hero", President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday, calling on French citizens to honor Beltrame's memory.

Lakdim was alone with one police officer who bravely swapped himself for a hostage.

Three people, including Beltrame, were killed in the supermarket in Trebes while a fourth person was killed earlier during a carjacking in the nearby city of Carcassonne.

Supermarket boss Samia Menassi, whose store remains closed and surrounded by police tape, was still in shock Saturday as she recalled hearing the first gunshots and a cry of "Allahu Akbar". "Then I looked back and he wasn't there any more and I slipped out of an emergency exit". He also shot and wounded a policeman in the same town. He added the attacker was demanding the release of Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving assailant of the November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead.

In February, Collomb said French security forces had foiled two planned attacks so far this year as Islamic State militants set their sights on domestic targets in response to the group's military setbacks in Iraq and Syria.

"I said to the girls, 'Call the police, there's a terrorist in the shop", she told AFP.

France has suffered several attacks from Islamist extremists, including the January 2015 attack on the Paris offices of the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine in which 17 people died.

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