French police find homemade explosives, ISIS notes belonging to terrorist

LA VIE A TREBES  via REUTERS                   Police are seen at the scene of a hostage situation in a supermarket in Trebes Aude France on Friday morning

Macron said of Beltrame: "In offering himself as a hostage to the terrorist holed up in the Trebes supermarket, lieutenant colonel Beltrame saved the life of a civilian hostage, showing exceptional self-sacrifice and courage".

French authorities say the girlfriend of an Islamic extremist who attacked a supermarket in southern France last week is a radicalized convert to Islam and that she shouted "Allahu akbar", or "God is Great", when she was arrested. It gave no further details.

The Interior Ministry identified the gunman as 26-year-old Redouane Lakdim, who was known to authorities for minor crimes including drug offenses, Collomb said. One officer was hit in the shoulder, but the injury wasn't serious, Lefebvre said.

He then drove to a supermarket in Trebes and remained there for more than three hours with hostages, killing at least two people.

Once inside he murdered a store employee and a customer and took everyone else hostage.

The officer was part of a team of gendarmes who were among the first to arrive at the supermarket scene.

France has been on high alert since a series of extremist attacks in 2015 and 2016 that killed more than 200 people.

He offered to trade places with a hostage the attacker was still holding, whereafter he took her place and left his mobile phone on a table, line open. When the officers heard more gunshots, they stormed the market, killing the gunman.

The order of the shots was unclear, Collomb said.

#ArnaudBeltrame was a trending topic on the social network where people expressed their respect and gratitude for the officer, and thoughts for his wife. Several cities, the National Assembly and police stations lowered their flags in his honour.

"This attack has been claimed by ISIS, and it is now being analyzed", Macron said.

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"I assure the inhabitants of Trebes of the full solidarity and mobilization of the services of the State and its forces of the law", tweeted Macron, France's youngest president (translated from French).

On March 24, the Paris prosecutors' office said police had detained a 17-year-old in connection with the investigation.

"Allaire's hints about ISIS" have been found at his home.

Radouane Lakdim was armed with a knife, gun and explosives when he attacked on Friday (March 23).

Another woman who was also allegedly connected to the attacker was taken into custody on Friday. "I'm here to honour him and I'm speaking to honour him, so that his act has some objective, that we're a bit more human, a bit more tolerant".

The officer's mother, who has not been named, said she was not surprised by her son's actions, saying: He's always been like that.

France is part of a group of countries whose warplanes have been bombing Islamic State strongholds in Iraq and Syria, where in recent months IS has lost much of a self-proclaimed "caliphate" of territory it seized in 2014.

Beltrame, who would have turned 45 in April, was a qualified parachutist who served in Iraq in 2005.

Elected in May 2017, French president, Emmanuel Macron, was in Brussels at the time of the event, meeting with the Council of the European Union at the leaders' summit.

After moving to the supermarket, where two people were killed, Lakdim demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving man behind the Paris attacks in 2015 that left 130 people dead, AP reported.

The officer was shot and stabbed before counterterrorism police moved in to kill the attacker and end the siege.

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