France honours 'hero' officer who took place of hostage

French gendarmes block the access to Tre

French gendarmes block the access to Tre

He later drove the vehicle to the supermarket and immediately opened fire upon people, killing two before taking several others as hostages.

Beltrame's death raises the death toll from the attack to four.

"He was well aware he had nearly no chance".

"Lieutenant-Colonel A. Beltrame fell as a hero to put an end to the murderously equipped of a jihadist terrorist".

The date of the ceremony for Beltrame wasn't immediately set. "Beltrame saved the life of a civilian hostage, showing exceptional self-sacrifice and courage".

The attack has rocked the normally sleepy town of Trebes, which went on lockdown Friday with heavily armed and masked police carrying out a massive operation in Lakdim's neighbourhood.

According to the statement, Beltrame joined the elite police special forces in 2003 and deployed to Iraq in 2005.

He served as a member of the presidential guard and in 2012 earned one of France's highest honours, the Order of Merit.

"By offering himself up as [a] hostage to the terrorist". The gunman was also killed, and 15 people were injured in the attack.

Security sources said Lakdim was born in Taza in northern Morocco and held French nationality. They also found a computer and a phone.

A source close to the investigation informed local media.

U.S. President Donald Trump emphasized Beltrame's heroic act on Sunday after sharing his "thoughts and prayers" with the victims of the attacks the previous day. More than a dozen people were wounded.

Mr Beltrame's mother told RTL radio on Friday night, before the announcement of his death, that "I'm not surprised".

Lakdim killed two people before giving up most of the hostages, keeping one woman as a human shield, who Lt Col Beltrame traded places with.

Francois Molins, a Paris-based prosecutor, told reporters there were no warning signs that Lakdim was about to carry out an attack.

Before seizing hostages, Lakdim had already shot one person dead and injured another while stealing a auto on Friday in the nearby town of Carcassonne, which is one of France's top tourist attractions. Lakdim then fired several shots at a group of police officers who had been out jogging.

The so-called Islamic State says it was behind deadly gun attacks in southwestern France on Friday in which a man shouting "Allahu Akbar" stormed into a supermarket and took hostages, a report of the Euronews said on Saturday.

The supermarket's manager, who would identify herself only as Samia, was in her office when she heard the shots.

She came downstairs, saw what was happening and called police. "There's a terrorist in the store".

Other victims were a winegrower who had been in a vehicle the attacker stole in Carcassonne, as well as a butcher and a shopper at the supermarket. Other people sought safety in the store's meat locker. The interior minister suggested, however, that Abdeslam's release wasn't a key motive.

A state of emergency put in place just after the 2015 Paris attacks was lifted last October when Macron's centrist government passed a new law boosting the powers of security forces.

It was at this point, he said, that Lt-Col Beltrame had volunteered to swap himself for her.

The mayor of Trebes, Eric Menassi, was equally emotional.

Moussa Azidad, a teacher in Trebes, said fellow Muslims must send a message to show they, too, must be present in the fight against terror. "There will be a before and an after".

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