Police detain partner of gunman who killed three people in southern France

Lt-Col Beltrame

Survivors and families of victims of Friday's terror attack in France attended a special mass to honor the four killed and three wounded, including an officer who swapped himself with a hostage in a supermarket in the southwestern town of Trebes. He was married but had no children.

A 26-year-old Moroccan national, Redouane Lakdim, who was living in Carcassonne and reportedly obtained a French citizenship in 2015, hijacked a auto, wounding the driver and killing the passenger, to drive to Trebes where he took people hostage at a supermarket.

The shootings come as France, part of the US-led coalition fighting Daesh remains on high alert following a string of deadly attacks that have killed more than 240 people since 2015.

The 25-year-old had already killed the supermarket's butcher and a customer before shooting Beltrame, prompting police to move in and kill the attacker. "He was very aware of what he was doing".

"The World Jewish Congress condemns in the strongest possible terms the despicable and heinous act of indiscriminate terror unleashed today in southwest France", WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said in a statement provided to The Jerusalem Post. At the time, he armed his officers with paintball guns, according to the La Depeche du Midi newspaper. "This event was also an opportunity to see an extraordinary act, extraordinary devotion by [Lieutenant] Colonel Arnaud Beltrame", he said.

Flowers piled up in front of the Gendarmerie headquarters in the French medieval city of Carcassone to pay tribute to Beltrame.

Flags are at half-staff at all French gendarmeries, while the hashtag #ArnaudBeltrame has been the most used on Twitter in France.

Lakdim fit a familiar profile as a petty criminal who had turned to extremism.

An investigation has been opened into murder and attempted murder "in connection with a terrorist in Trèbes", the French prosecutor's office told CNN.

The four-hour drama began at 10:13 a.m. when Lakdim hijacked a vehicle near Carcassonne, killing one person in the auto and wounding the other, the prosecutor said.

Macron has said investigators will focus on establishing how the gunman, identified by prosecutors as Morocco-born Redouane Lakdim, got his weapon and how he became radicalized.

"I said to the girls, "Call the police, there's a terrorist in the shop", she told AFP. Lakdim then fired six shots at police officers who had just finished jogging, hitting one in the shoulder.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Friday that another person, a woman close to Lakdim, was taken into custody on the same grounds.

France's top counterterrorism investigators said Ladkim yelled "Allahu akbar" and claimed he was a "soldier of the Islamic State" as he stormed the market.

A BFM TV reporter at the scene said the attacker claimed to be an ISIS soldier and demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the suspected mastermind of the November 2015 Paris attacks. "There's not a soul in sight", she said.

The ISIS-affiliated Amaq News Agency said that the gunman was a "soldier" of the militant group and that he had responded to its call to attack coalition countries, a reference to the US -led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

France has been repeatedly targeted because of its participation in the air strikes.

The violence unfolded when the attacker stole a auto, killing one person in the vehicle and gravely wounding another, said Collomb, the interior minister.



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