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France pays tribute to hostage swap police hero

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By Euronews
A child's picture thanking Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame
A child's picture thanking Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame

Tributes have been pouring in for a French police officer who died after offering himself up to an Islamic extremist gunman in exchange for a hostage during an attack on a supermarket on Friday.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, 44, died from his injuries after the attacker shot him.

Residents of the town of Carcassone and the nearby town of Trebes, where the supermarket attack took place, placed flowers in front of the gendarmerie local headquarters.

Mourners in Trebes packed a church for a Sunday service that honoured the victims.

Flags were flown at half-mast at other police bases across France.

"He fell as a hero, giving up his life to halt the murderous outfit of a jihadist terrorist," French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement.

Beltrame was part of a team of police who were among the first on the scene of the hostage-taking drama.

He swapped places with a female hostage and left his mobile phone on a table, with the line still connected.

When Beltrame was shot three times, elite police stormed the building and killed the gunman, 25-year-old Redouane Lakdim.

Politicians from the left and right called Beltrame a "hero" on Twitter, including opposition leader Laurent Wauquiez, far-right National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen and Olivier Faure, set to become the next Socialist party head.

#ArnaudBeltrame was a trending topic on the social network where people expressed their respect and gratitude for the officer, and thoughts for his wife.

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