France honors hero cop who died saving hostage in terror attack

(NEW YORK POST) — President Emmanuel Macron led national tributes on Wednesday to the gendarme who switched places with a woman hostage during an attack on a supermarket in southern France last week and was killed by the Islamist militant gunman.

Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame’s heroism has helped reassure a nation left shaken and in mourning after Moroccan-born Radouane Lakdim’s killing spree, an attack that rekindled a debate over how France deals with suspected radical Islamists.

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

Crowds lined the streets and gendarmes stood to attention as the cortege passed.

In the cobbled courtyard of Les Invalides, Macron solemnly addressed the nation.

“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.”

Lakdim’s rampage began when he shot dead the occupant of a car he stole and fired on a group of police joggers, wounding one. He then headed to a supermarket in Trebes, east of the popular medieval tourist city of Carcassonne, where he killed an employee and a customer.

Beltrame, 44, led the team of gendarmes who arrived first on the scene. He persuaded Lakdim to release a woman he was holding as a human shield, laying down his weapon and putting his mobile phone on a table with the line surreptitiously left open.

When three shots later rang out, elite police stormed the building and shot dead Lakdim. Beltrame was found with bullet wounds to an arm and foot and a grave knife wound to the neck.

He died the following morning in hospital.

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