Police 'hero' dies of wounds — French supermarket attack

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Trèbes, a small town of about 6000 people along the Canal du Midi in south-western France, was in lockdown on Friday (local time), with helicopters and masked police patrolling Lakdim's neighbourhood.

The gunman was identified as 26-year-old Redouane Lakdim, a petty criminal of Moroccan origin who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

"The acts carried out today sadly remind us once more, tragically, that the terrorist threat level on our territory has not lessened", Molins said. Flags at all gendarmeries were ordered to fly at half-staff. He left his cell phone on, Collomb said, and other officers laid their final siege after hearing gunshots.

France is part of a U.S. -led coalition fighting against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and also has thousands of soldiers in West Africa fighting al Qaeda-linked militants.

"He would tell me, 'Mum, I do my job".

Changing target, he headed towards the riot police's garrison, where he shot at four officers jogging outside, before driving away.

Beltrame had been hailed as a hero by French President Emmanuel Macron.

UK PM Theresa May said the "sacrifice and courage" of the police officer would not be forgotten.

As Friday's attack was underway, Beltrame offered to exchange himself for one of the female hostages held inside the Super U supermarket, Collomb said.

The most recent assault came in October when a Tunisian man stabbed to death two women at Marseille's railway station, shouting "Allahu Akbar".

Five people were wounded in the attacks, including three seriously.

A gun-wielding extremist unleashed bloodshed in a quiet corner of southern France yesterday, killing three people as he hijacked a car, opened fire on police and took hostages in a supermarket, where panicked shoppers hid in a meat freezer or ran through the aisles. And remarkably, Lt-Col Beltrame offered to take the woman's place.

Cedric Beltrame told RTL radio Saturday his brother "gave his life for strangers".

There were initially conflicting reports amid the chaos of the shooting, with L'independent claiming two men shot at the cops from inside a car. "He was very aware of what he was doing".

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

"He saved lives and honoured his colleagues and his country", Macron said.

In Carcassonne, local residents flocked to Beltrame's base with flowers.

Lakdim shot one police officer in the shoulder in Carcassonne, a walled hill top city which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Beltrame died Friday night, police said. She said she helped evacuate as many people as possible.

Unconfirmed media reports said the assailant had claimed he belonged to the Islamic State extremist group.

Investigators say that just before that attack, Lakdim carjacked a vehicle and killed its driver.

He killed two people and injured 15 others when he raided the supermarket in the southwestern French town.

Le Parisien newspaper reported that Lakdim lived with his parents, and quoted a neighbour saying he had dropped off one of his little sisters at school on Friday morning. Molins didn't identify her.

"He shot at me twice". I knew it had to be him. RTL didn't give her name. Guibbert escaped out an emergency market door as elite police forces arrived to storm the building.

Last year Beltrame was appointed deputy commander of the anti-terror police in the Aude region.

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