Community prays for police officer killed after trading places with hostage

Authorities said a large police operation is under way at the supermaket

Authorities said a large police operation is under way at the supermaket

On Friday this week, a lone gunman identified as Redouane Lakdim stormed into a supermarket in Trèbes, a small town in southern France, killing four people, including the high-ranked officer Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame who traded his life to save a hostage.

A 26-year-old Moroccan national, Redouane Lakdim, who was living in Carcassonne and reportedly obtained a French citizenship in 2015, hijacked a auto, wounding the driver and killing the passenger, to drive to Trebes where he took people hostage at a supermarket.

Speaking to RTL radio on Monday, Nicolle Beltrame said she was not surprised by her 45-year-old son Arnaud's selfless act at a supermarket in southwest France on Friday, saying he was a fierce patriot and proud serviceman.

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.

Police union Synergie noted that France's security forces have become "particular targets for supporters of this deadly extremist ideology". Police sources said Beltrame was shot three times.

It also emerged on Monday that Lakdim's girlfriend, like the gunman himself, had been on a watch list of suspected extremists, sources close to the inquiry said.

Investigators said Lakdim had been a small-time drug dealer and under police surveillance for radicalization.

"I want to tell the nation tonight of my absolute determination in leading this fight", said Macron, who returned to Paris from Brussels to chair a crisis meeting with ministers and security officials.

He opened fire on passengers in a auto, killing one of them, and later shot dead two more people at the supermarket.

French authorities said the gunman claimed allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

The officer "left his telephone on the table", to allow police that had surrounded the building in the sleepy town of 5,000 inhabitants listen in, Collomb said.

Three people were killed and 16 injured in the hostage-taking, although a source at the interior ministry said that number could rise. Officer died after bravely swapping places with the hostage in Daesh* terror attack.

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

"Asked if she was proud of him, she said he would have told her "'I'm doing my job mom, that's all'".

Around 20 shoppers and staff reportedly escaped from the grocery store after running for their lives, though it was uncertain how many hostages were taken during a standoff with police. "Then I looked back and he wasn't there any more and I slipped out of an emergency exit".

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the rampage.

That assault marked the first of several big Islamist attacks in France since 2015, including the massacre at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the November 2015 attacks that killed 130 in Paris, and the 2016 Bastille Day truck attack in Nice.

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