The French officer who offered himself for a hostage now fights for his life, but his bravery saved lives
A French police officer is fighting for his life after shooting a gunman who went on a deadly rampage in southern France, authorities said Friday.
The gunman killed three people and wounded 16 others when he stole a car, fired at police officers and took hostages in a supermarket in what authorities are treating as a terrorist attack.
Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said the officer, a lieutenant colonel with the National Police, offered to exchange himself for one of the female hostages being held inside the Super U supermarket in Trèbes.
When the officer went inside the supermarket, shots were fired. The lieutenant colonel had his phone on, so police could hear his interactions with the gunman, Collomb said. As soon as they heard gunfire, police went in.
The gunman was killed and the officer, identified by a source close to the investigation as Arnaud Beltrame, was seriously wounded.
The Interior Ministry identified the gunman as 26-year-old Redouane Lakdim, who was known to authorities for minor crimes including drug offenses, Collomb said.
An investigation has been opened into murder and attempted murder “in connection with a terrorist in Trèbes,” the French prosecutor’s office told CNN.
Police have taken into custody a woman who was “very close” to Lakdim and “shared his life,” prosecutor François Molins told reporters at a news conference in Carcassonne.
“Our country has suffered an Islamist terrorist attack,” President Emmanuel Macron told reporters. “We’ve paid the price of the danger of the terrorist threat in blood for several years.
“I want to state my absolute determination to the nation to lead this fight.”
The ISIS-affiliated Amaq News Agency said that the gunman was a “soldier” of the militant group and that he had responded to its call to attack coalition countries, a reference to the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Amaq offered no evidence ISIS had any contact with the attacker.
“This attack has been claimed by ISIS, and it is currently being analyzed,” Macron said.
A local prosecutor said the attack appeared to be “ISIS-inspired,” CNN affiliate BFM TV reported. Witnesses said the man shouted, “I am a Daesh soldier,” using another name for ISIS.
A BFM TV reporter at the scene said the attacker claimed to be an ISIS soldier and demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the suspected mastermind of the November 2015 Paris attacks.
CNN could not independently confirm the gunman made the demand. Abdeslam is on trial in Belgium.
France has faced a string of terrorist attacks in recent years, including the Paris attacks and other smaller-scale assaults. The country remained under a state of emergency for about two years after the Paris attacks. It was lifted late last year.