A French police officer who switched places with a female hostage during an Islamic State-inspired terror attack in southwest France has died of his wounds, officials said Saturday.
Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame, 45, was shot in the neck as he entered the Super U supermarket in Trèbes, France, where a gunman had already killed two people.
A senior officer in the French gendarmerie, Beltrame was attempting to negotiate with the gunman, 26-year-old Radouane Lakdim, to secure the release of dozens of hostages inside the market.
“Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame died in the service of the nation to which he had already contributed so much,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse.
“By giving his life to end the murderous escapade of a jihadist terrorist, he died a hero.”
Lakdim, a Moroccan-born French national already known to police for his links to radical jihadis, began his rampage Friday morning when he stole a car and killed the driver in Carcassonne.
He then moved on to Trèbes, where he burst into the supermarket claiming allegiance to the Islamic State terror group and opened fire, killing a clerk and a customer.
As the attack was underway, Beltrame offered to exchange himself for one of the female hostages in the store, according to French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb.
Before being shot, he left his phone on a table in the store so police could hear his interactions with the gunman, Collomb said.
“Lieutenant Colonel Beltrame displayed exceptional calm in the heat of the moment and showed the virtue of our security forces in astonishing fashion,” Macron said, according to AFP. Beltrame “died a hero,” the president added.
Police stormed the market and killed Lakdim as soon as they heard the gunfire.
Later, the Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency.
Breaking: #ISIS ‘Amaq News Agency reports that #Trebes #France hostage-taker was a “soldier of the Islamic State, who carried out the attack in response to the calls to attack Coalition countries." The message follows a coordinated celebratory campaign by ISIS supporters online. pic.twitter.com/gYiAFwg0wq
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) March 23, 2018
Beltrame, who was married without children, was a decorated veteran of the French military police.
He deployed to Iraq in 2005 and was later awarded the Cross for Military Valor for his service there, according to French officials.
Beltrame also served as a commander in the Republican Guard, which provides security at the residence of the French president.
He is the seventh member of France’s security forces to be killed in a domestic jihadi attack since 2012, according to AFP.
A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.
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