Wednesday, 23 October, 2019

National tribute honors French policeman killed in attack

Arnaud Beltrame Arnaud Beltrame 45 took the place of a woman who gunman Radouane Lakdim was holding as a hostage CREDIT AP
Patty Aguilar | 29 March, 2018, 06:04

"The name of his attacker will be forgotten, but the name of Arnaud Beltrame will live on", Macron told a national ceremony to honour the officer, one of four victims of Friday's shooting spree in southwestern France.

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His act was the epitome of France's "spirit of resistance" against Islamist barbarity, he added.

Along with the police officer, Lakdim shot dead the passenger of a vehicle he hijacked in Carcassonne and two people in the supermarket he besieged in Trebes.

The French police officer who has become a hero to the French and a symbol of selfless service inspired by his patriotism and Christian faith has been honoured with a state funeral on Wednesday.

His coffin lay draped in the French flag on a wooden bier in the vast cobbled courtyard of Les Invalides during Wednesday's ceremony.

Across the country, police stations will pause for a minute's silence at 0800 GMT.

Beltrame, 44, was shot and stabbed after he offered to change places with one of the captives in an armed supermarket siege in southern France.

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After the attack, his agency, created three years ago to consolidate counter terrorism efforts, has been investigating Lakdim's family members in Morocco, he said.

He earlier opened fire at a group of off-duty police, seriously injuring one, and shot dead a man when hijacking a vehicle in the nearby town of Carcassonne.

"You behaved in your last moments just as you behaved throughout your whole life: as a patriot, as a good man, as a man with a big heart", his brother Damien wrote on Facebook.

The government has rejected criticism that the attack could have been prevented through tougher measures such as the preventive detention of known extremists.

Lakdim had been on a list of suspected terrorists since 2014 and was being monitored. According to media reports, he was summoned by anti-terror police for questioning before the attack but failed to respond to set up an appointment.

Defying a call by Crif, an organization of French Jewish groups, Marine le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party, and Jean-Luc Melenchon, head of hard-left "Unbowed France" movement, joined the march where they were greeted with whistles and jostling.

He rejected rightwing proposals to impose an outright ban on ultraconservative Salafist Islam or "preemptively" detain the most radicalised Islamists.

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