Carcassonne and Trèbes attack
|2018 Carcassonne and Trèbes attacks|
|Part of Islamic terrorism in Europe|
|Location||Trèbes and Carcassonne, Aude, France|
|Date||23 March 2018|
|Hostage-taking, shooting, stabbing|
|Deaths||5 (including the perpetrator)|
|Perpetrator||Redouane Lakdim (self-proclaimed Islamic State member)|
|Motive||Release of Salah Abdeslam|
On 23 March 2018, there was a series of Islamist terrorist attacks in the towns of Carcassonne and Trèbes in southern France. Redouane Lakdim, a 25-year-old French-Moroccan (born 11 April 1992 in Taza, Morocco), shot the two occupants of a car in Carcassonne, killing the passenger and hijacking it. He then opened fire on four police officers, seriously wounding one. Lakdim drove to nearby Trèbes, where he stormed a Super U supermarket, killing two civilians, wounding others, and taking at least one hostage. He swore allegiance to the Islamic State and demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving suspect of the November 2015 Paris attacks.
A senior gendarmerie officer, Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, voluntarily swapped places with a hostage. After a three-hour stand-off, Lakdim shot and fatally stabbed Beltrame. A police tactical unit immediately stormed the building and killed Lakdim. He was named a "soldier of the Islamic State" by the Amaq News Agency, and the President of France called the attacks an act of Islamist terrorism. Five people were killed in the attacks, including the perpetrator, and fifteen were wounded.
Shortly before 10 a.m. (9 a.m. UTC) on Friday 23 March 2018, Redouane Lakdim, armed with a handgun, stopped a car on the outskirts of Carcassonne that was occupied by Renato Silva, of Portugal, and Jean Mazières. Lakdim shot both occupants, killing Mazières and critically injuring Silva, then stole the car and drove off. He appeared to wait outside a military barracks for soldiers, but then drove to a police barracks and attacked four police officers as they were jogging back to their barracks by shooting at and trying to run them over. One of the officers was shot, but the bullet narrowly missed his heart and instead broke a few ribs and punctured a lung. Lakdim then sped off and drove 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to Trèbes.
At around 11 a.m. Lakdim entered the Super U supermarket in Trèbes armed with a handgun, a hunting knife and three homemade bombs. There were about fifty people inside. He shouted "Allahu akbar", and declared he was a soldier of Islamic State and that he was willing to "die for Syria". He shot dead two people—a supermarket worker and a customer—and took others hostage, ordering everyone to lie on the ground. Most of those in the supermarket managed to flee and some hid in a cold store. Hundreds of police and gendarmerie quickly arrived, cordoned off the area and helped to evacuate people. They found Lakdim holding several hostages, including a woman whom he used as a human shield. A GIGN unit assembled near the supermarket and Interior Minister Gérard Collomb arrived. Lakdim demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, a primary suspect in the November 2015 Paris attacks. During the standoff, he briefly came out of the supermarket, threatening to "blow everything up". Police brought Lakdim's mother and two sisters to negotiate, unsuccessfully.
Police negotiated with Lakdim to release the hostages, and Arnaud Beltrame, a 44-year-old lieutenant colonel in the National Gendarmerie, offered to take the place of the final, female hostage, and Lakdim agreed. Beltrame set his mobile phone on a table inside with the phone line open, so the police outside could listen in. After a three-hour stand-off, Beltrame tried to disarm Lakdim and shouted "Assault! Assault!" loud enough to be heard through the phone. As a result, Beltrame was shot three or four times and fatally stabbed, while GIGN operatives immediately stormed the supermarket at 2:40 p.m. and exchanged gunfire with the assailant, killing him two minutes later. Two of the operatives were wounded. Shortly after, police dogs went into the building, and an ambulance and helicopter arrived in the car park. Beltrame was praised by Interior Minister Collomb and others for his heroism, but later died in hospital of his injuries. Autopsies found that Beltrame died from stab wounds to the throat.
The suspect was identified as Redouane Lakdim, a 25-year-old French-Moroccan man who was born in Morocco. He lived in Carcassonne with his parents and sisters, and regularly attended the Carcassonne mosque. He had been convicted twice for petty crimes, and had served one month in prison in 2016. Lakdim was very active on Salafist social networks and had been on a watchlist of suspected Islamist extremists since 2014. He was a small time drug dealer. He had been under surveillance for his "radicalism and proximity to Salafist movements" but had showed no signs he was going to carry out an attack. After his death in Trèbes, police raided his home as well as those of his friends and relatives and interviewed neighbours, one of whom described him as a "pleasant young man". Interior Minister Gérard Collomb believes he acted alone. A search of his home found notes referring to Islamic State, in what appeared to be a will. His girlfriend was known to French security services.
Renato Silva survived being shot in the head by Lakdim before having his car stolen, and was taken to Perpignan where he went into a coma. On 4 April, he came out of the coma but could not walk unassisted and suffered partial paralysis in the face and deafness in one ear. Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited Silva in hospital. He was released on 23 March and returned to his home in Villemoustaussou, Aude.
French Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb, who was briefed on the situation in Trèbes from Saint-Cyr-au-Mont-d'Or, said he was "on his way to Trèbes" and arrived shortly after. President Emmanuel Macron said the hostage taking "appeared to be a terrorist act" and that he would return to Paris within hours to coordinate an official response.
Beltrame's name was the top trending hashtag on the French edition of Twitter on the morning he died due to tributes from France and elsewhere around the world. Gendarmerie stations across France flew flags at half-mast in his honour, and the Élysée Presidential Palace announced that a national tribute would be paid to him.
United Kingdom: Prime Minister Theresa May denounced the attack as "cowardly," and said the United Kingdom stood "in solidarity with our friends and allies in France, just as they always stand with us."
Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack, sent condolences and said: "The civilized world must unite and work together in order to defeat terrorism". President Reuven Rivlin also denounced the attack, saying: "The whole free world must stand united and firm against terror: in Jerusalem, in France, and across the world."
United States: President Donald Trump issued a statement on Twitter, condemning "the violent actions of the attacker and anyone who would provide him support." He continued, "we are with you @EmmanuelMacron!"
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Correction: An earlier version of this story misreported Beltrame's age. He was 44, not 45.
- "Des roses blanches en hommage au Lieutenant-colonel Beltrame, assassiné vendredi dans l'Aude(White roses in hommage to Lieutenant-Colonel Beltrame, assassinated Friday in Aude)" (in French). Liberation-Champagne. 24 March 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
Né le 18 avril 1973 ...Agé de 44 ans, le lieutenant-colonel Beltrame était marié, sans enfant. (Born 18 April 1973 ... 44 years old, Lieutenant-Colonel Beltrame was married, without children.)
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L'officier de 44 ans, (The 44-year-old officer)
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Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame ... "fell as a hero" and showed "exceptional courage", French President Emmanuel Macron said. Announcing the police officer's death on Twitter, Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said: "He died for his country. France will never forget his heroism, his bravery, his sacrifice." Sixteen people were injured, two seriously, in what Mr Macron called an act of "Islamist terrorism".
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Beltrame's name was the top trend on Twitter on Saturday morning as people in France and around the world lined up to pay tribute to the gendarme
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Flags were flown at half-staff in gendarme stations across France as the country honoured the officer declared a national hero by President Emmanuel Macron after he swapped himself for a hostage and was killed by an Islamist gunman. ... The officer's name was the top trending hashtag on the French edition of Twitter, with members of the public in France and around the world paying tribute to what many of them called a "true hero."
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