A French police officer bravely swapped places with a female hostage on Friday, March 23rd during a terrorist attack in the south of France. According to French authorities, the brave officer has died as a result of his wounds.
The officer’s name is Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame. He was 45 years old. He died Friday night.
The terrorist attack occurred in a supermarket. The person who committed the attack was a supporter of ISIS. The man was
Moroccan-born and a French national, and he had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State. According to reports, he was seeking revenge for Syria and trying to secure the freedom of Salah Abdeslam, the only remaining member of the group that organized the attacks in Paris in 2015.
The attacker’s name was Redouane Lakdim, and he was 26 years old. Prior to the hostage situation he created, he shot a person in a nearby town and then stole their car. On his way to the supermarket, he encountered a group of four police officers. He shot one of them in the shoulder.
According to reports, Lakdim was already on law enforcement’s radar; he was known to be a petty criminal with potential ties to radicals.
When Lakdim made his way into the supermarket on Friday and took control of it, the man allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” before shooting and killing a store employee and customer. Many hostages were let go, but he kept one female hostage to use as a human shield.
Beltrame courageously entered the store, his phone on so that other officers could hear what was transpiring in the supermarket. Beltrame spoke with Lakdim and calmly offered to take the female hostage’s place in order to ensure her safety.
Tragically, Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame was shot multiple times in the throat; as soon as gunfire was heard, other officers entered the supermarket and killed the gunman.
Emmanuel Macron, the French President, spoke about Beltrame, saying that he saved lives. He honored his duty and the country. As the president put it, he “died for his country”.
Macron stated that the country of France will never forget his bravery, heroism, or sacrifice.
Macron also wanted to reassure his citizens and calm fears about future terror attacks—like the ones experienced by France in 2015 and 2016. He said that he wanted to tell the nation that he is absolutely determined to lead the fight.
He urged his fellow citizens to remain aware of the threat posed by terrorism, but to also be aware of the resistance and force demonstrated by France’s people each and every time the country was attacked.
According to Gerard Collomb, the interior minister, it is believed that Ladkim acted alone in the attack.
He said that Ladkim had been monitored and was known for possessing drugs. However, it couldn’t be said that he was a radical who would carry out an attack.
Salah Abdeslam, the person Ladkim was apparently trying to get released, has not been convicted of the November 2015 attacks in Paris. However, he is in prison and in solitary confinement.
The 2015 attacks in Paris occurred on Friday the 13th of November. There was a series of coordinated attacks, beginning with suicide bombers striking outside of Stade de France during a football match. There were then several mass shootings and a suicide bombing at restaurants and cafes. There was another mass shooting at the Bataclan theatre.
Three groups of three men each were responsible for executing the attacks. In total, 130 people died as a result of the terrorist attack; over 350 people were injured.
After the attack, France was put into a state of emergency for the first time since the riots of 2005. 1,500 soldiers were called in to assist police in Paris, and borders were temporarily closed. Many metro stations in the regions hit by the attack were closed. The Eiffel Tower was closed for two days, and several well-known bands cancelled performances in the city of Paris.
The rest of the world was watching the tragedy unfold, of course. Belgium tightened security along the country’s border with France. Across the Atlantic, United States’ cities took additional security precautions.