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France holds memorial service for hero police officer

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By Alice Cuddy
France holds memorial service for hero police officer
Copyright  Ludovic Marin/Pool via Reuters

France has held a national memorial service in honour of the police officer who was killed after trading places with a hostage in a supermarket siege by an Islamist militant.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, 44, voluntarily took the place of a woman being held captive in the Super U store in the southwestern town of Trèbes on Friday.

He had a call running on his mobile phone throughout the attack to allow police units to monitor the situation.

Colleagues say he had hoped to negotiate once all the shoppers and staff had been taken to safety, but the gunman, Redouane Lakdim, shot and stabbed him.

Beltrame later died of his injuries.

Tributes for Beltrame began with a minute’s silence in gendarme barracks across France, before his coffin, draped in the French flag, was driven through Paris to Les Invalides, a former military hospital.

Crowds lined the streets and police stood to attention as the coffin passed. 

French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a public eulogy in honour of the officer. 

“To accept to die so the innocent can live: that is the essence of what it means to be a soldier,” he said. “Others, even many who are brave, would have wavered or hesitated.”

Three others were killed and 15 injured in the attack by Lakdim, who hijacked a car and shot a police officer before storming the supermarket.