He has fallen a hero': French gendarme who replaced hostages dies.
Arnaud Beltrame dies of injuries day after being shot in throat during Trèbes supermarket siege
The French gendarme who was shot after he swapped places with several people being held by a terrorist gunman has died.
The interior minister, Gérard Collomb, announced the death of Lt ColArnaud Beltrame shortly before 6am (French time) on Saturday.
"We will never forget his heroism, his bravery, his sacrifice. With a heavy heart, I send the support of the entire country to his family, friends and colleagues of the gendarmerie of the Aude," Collomb tweeted.
Shortly afterwards, President Emmanuel Macron issued a statement saying he was "deeply moved" to learn of the officer's death from his injuries.
Beltrame was shot in the throat at the end of a four-hour supermarket siege in the quiet town of Trèbes, near Carcassonne, in southern France on Friday.
The gendarme had volunteered to take the place of several hostages being held by Radouane Lakdim, who had shot a member of staff and a customer at the store, after shouting his allegiance to Islamic State. Collomb had said on Friday that Lakdim allowed Beltrame to take the place of one female hostage.
Earlier, the 25-year-old had hijacked a car, shooting and seriously injuring the driver and killing the passenger, and had shot at a group of police reserves playing football.
Beltrame's death brought the total number of those killed to four; 15 others were injured, at least one critically.
"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.
He said the officer had shown "exceptional sang froid" and demonstrated the finest "military virtues" that merited the "respect and admiration of the entire nation".
The attacker, named as Redouane Lakdim, 25, was born in Morocco and lived in Carcassonne. He was known to police for petty crimes and drug-dealing. The state prosecutor François Molins said he had been under surveillance in 2016 and 2017 for his "radicalism and proximity to Salafist movements" but had showed no signs he was going to carry out an attack.
Questions will be asked as to how Lakdim was able to obtain a weapon and carry out attacks when he had been monitored by security services.
Beltrame, 44, of the Aude gendarmerie, originated from Brittany, in western France, and had earned distinctions, commendations and military honours throughout his career.
He graduated from France's elite Saint-Cyr military academy in 1999 with special praise for his "resolutely offensive spirit when faced with adversity". His superior officers noted that he was prepared to "fight to the end and never give up".
Beltrame then underwent training for the gendarmerie, including for the elite special intervention unit, the Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN), whose missions include counter-terrorism and hostage rescue.
He earned the military cross in 2007 after a two-year posting to Iraq, and later spent four years as part of the Garde Républicaine protecting the Elysée Palace before becoming a special adviser to the secretary general of France's ecology ministry. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2016.
Macron said Beltrame "died serving the country to which he had already given so much. In giving his life to bring to an end the murderous actions of a jihadist terrorist, he has fallen a hero." Macron added.
After offering himself for the hostage swap, Beltrame left his mobile telephone line open, enabling police and special forces outside the supermarket to hear what was going on. When they heard shots, they stormed the store, killed Lakdim, and evacuated the gravely injured gendarme to hospital by helicopter.