Hero cop who swapped himself for hostage dies in France

Police gather outside a supermarket

Police gather outside a supermarket in Trebes CREDIT AP

Jewish leaders in France swiftly sent out their condolences to the victims of the attack soon after learning of the carnage committed at the Super U store in Trebes, where police said they were able to shoot and kill the suspect in an hours-long armed standoff.

He stormed the supermarket, shouting "Allahu Akbar" -God is great - and telling the 50-odd people inside that he was "a soldier of the Islamic State" seeking "to liberate brothers".

Arnaud Beltrame, 44, was among the first officers to respond to the attack Friday on the supermarket in the southern French town of Trebes.

The officer organised a training session in the Aude region in December for just such a hostage situation.

It was one of the first significant national security incidents during Macron's tenure and one of the first attacks since his administration made permanent the government's "state of emergency" regime of heightened security measures.

The attacker shot the owner and passenger of a car, which he then stole.

All well and good - the man is a hero.

"We still don't know what happened, but knowing Christian, I imagine he would have wanted to intervene", said Franck Alberti, Medves' friend for the past 45 years.

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By midafternoon, police had shot and killed the gunman, Collomb announced.

Lakdim also gunned down a customer at the butcher's counter: 65-year-old Herve Sosna, a retired builder.

"We thought this only happened in big towns", said a 52-year-old restaurant-owner who gave her name as Khadija.

Mr Beltrame, who is survived by his wife, was a qualified parachutist who served in Iraq in 2005.

The Bishop of Carcassonne and Narbonne Alain Planet celebrated mass, during which he praised the "extraordinary devotion" of Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame.

Planet said Friday's events offered an opportunity to reflect on the suffering felt by countless people around the world.

Macron said the investigation will answer several questions - when and how the gunman was radicalized, and where he got a weapon.

"We are with you @EmmanuelMacron!" he added on Twitter. Sixteen people were injured, two seriously, in what Macron called an act of "Islamist terrorism".

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Hundreds of people including friends, family and local officials attended a memorial service in Trebes on Sunday to honour the victims of the Islamist militant attack that killed a gendarme and three other people in southwest France last week.

"France will never forget his heroism, his bravery, his sacrifice".

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. A judicial source told Reuters his throat had been cut, referring to the autopsy results.

The late Arnaud Beltrame, the gendarme who voluntarily took the place of a hostage during a deadly supermarket siege in southwestern France on Friday, March 23, 2018.

These comments have sparked a public outcry on social networks, said BFMTV, adding that France Insoumise and its representatives immediately dissociated and condemned these remarks.

The French leader hailed law enforcement's response.

In an interview with RTL radio, Beltrame's mother said she was not surprised he would give himself up for a hostage.

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