Gunman holds hostages in French supermarket


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A gunman is holding several people hostage in a supermarket in Trèbes, in the south of France.

French media say the man had earlier fired shots at some policemen who were jogging, wounding one of them, but not critically.

Elite police have rushed to the Super U shop in Trèbes, near Carcassonne.

A prosecutor says the gunman claims to be in the Islamic State group. In January 2015 a jihadist gunman killed four people in a Paris supermarket.

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said the situation was "serious". Local media are reporting that one person has been killed but authorities are yet to confirm this.

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My sympathies to those who lost their lives, what a brave man

yet another Islamic State terrorist on a watch list and guess what? he killed!! It will never end

A French police officer who swapped himself for a hostage in a supermarket siege on Friday has died, officials say.

Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame, 44, "fell as a hero" and showed "exceptional courage", French President Emmanuel Macron said.

The gendarme helped bring an end to a gunman's shooting spree that killed three in southern France.

The radical Islamist gunman, 25-year-old Redouane Lakdim, was shot dead as police brought the siege to an end.

Col Beltrame's death was announced on Twitter by French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb.

In a radio interview on Saturday, Col Beltrame's brother, Cedric, said Arnaud's actions were "beyond the call of duty".

"He gave his life for strangers. He must have known that he didn't really have a chance. If that doesn't make him a hero, I don't know what would," he said.

Flags were flown at half-mast at gendarmerie bases across France on Saturday.

Earlier, Mr Macron had revealed that Col Beltrame suffered serious injuries and was fighting for his life in hospital.

Sixteen people were injured, two seriously, in what Mr Macron called an act of "Islamist terrorism".

Lakdim was said to have demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the most important surviving suspect in the 13 November 2015 attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people.

Prosecutors are reportedly questioning two people in connection with the attacks, one of whom is thought to be the gunman's partner while the other is believed to be a friend.

How will Col Beltrame be remembered?
Col Beltrame was a highly-regarded member of the Gendarmerie Nationale and was described by France's president on Saturday as someone who "fought until the end and never gave up".

He graduated in 1999 from France's leading military academy in Saint Cyr and in 2003 became one of just a handful of candidates chosen to join the gendarmerie's elite security response group GSIGN.

He was deployed to Iraq in 2005 and was later awarded the Cross for Military Valour for his peacekeeping work. On his return to France, Col Beltrame joined the country's Republican Guard and was tasked with protecting the presidential palace.

In 2017, he was named deputy chief of the Gendarmerie Nationale in the French region of Aude, home to the medieval town of Carcassonne, where Lakdim began his deadly shooting spree on Friday.

As recently as December, Col Beltrame took part in a simulated terror attack on a local supermarket in the region.

Col Beltrame becomes the seventh member of France's security forces to be killed in such attacks since 2012.

What led up to Friday's siege?
The violence began on Friday morning in Carcassonne, where Lakdim hijacked a car. He killed a passenger - whose body was later found hidden in a bush - and injured the driver.

He then shot at a group of policemen who were out jogging, wounding one of them.

Lakdim is then believed to have driven a short distance to the small town of Trèbes, where he stormed into the Super-U supermarket, shouting, "I am a soldier of Daesh [Islamic State]!"

He killed two people - a customer and a store worker - before seizing others as hostages.