Extremist slain, 3 dead after rampage
A gun-wielding extremist went on a rampage Friday in a quiet corner of southern France, 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 locker or ran through the aisles.
After an hourslong standoff, the 25-year-old attacker was slain as elite police forces stormed the market. They were aided by a heroic police officer who had offered himself up in a hostage swap and suffered life-threatening wounds as a result — one of 16 people injured in the day’s violence.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack near Carcassonne, a medieval city beloved by tourists, and the town of Trebes. It was the deadliest attack in France since Emmanuel Macron became president last May.
The officer who volunteered to take the place a female hostage was identified as Col. Arnaud Beltrame. He managed to surreptitiously leave his cellphone on so that police outside could hear what was going on inside the supermarket. Officials said once they heard shots inside the market they decided to storm it.
A police official who was not authorized to be publicly identified confirmed the officer’s identity to The Associated Press.
“He saved lives,” Macron said.
Macron said investigators will focus on establishing how the gunman, identified by prosecutors as Moroccan-born Redouane Lakdim, got his weapon, and how he became radicalized.