French police officer dies after swapping places with hostage

By Sam Howard  |  March 24, 2018 at 8:43 AM
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March 24 (UPI) -- The death toll of a suspected terrorism-inspired attack in France has risen to four.

The latest to die is Arnaud Beltrame, a police officer who voluntarily switched places with a woman held hostage by Redouane Lakdim. Lakdim fatally shot an employee and customer at a market in Trèbes after killing another person in a carjacking, authorities said.

Lakdim, 26, claimed he was affiliated with the Islamic State terrorist group and was later killed by police.

French interior minister Gérard Collomb confirmed Beltrame's death on Twitter early Saturday. French president Emmanuel Macron asked the country's citizens to honor the officer.

After offering to trade places with the female hostage, Lakdim was shot in the throat as he entered the supermarket. He left his cell phone on, Collomb said, and other officers laid their final siege after hearing gunshots.

"In offering himself as a hostage to the terrorist hiding in the supermarket in Trèbes, Lieutenant-Colonel Beltrame saved the life of a civilian hostage, and showed exceptional courage and self-sacrifice," Macron wrote in a separate statement.

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