Memorial service held for French attack victims

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Hundreds of friends, family and local officials have attended a memorial service in Trebes to honour the victims of an attack on Friday that killed a gendarme and three other people in southwest France.

Gendarme Arnaud Beltrame, 44, who voluntarily took the place of a female hostage during the supermarket siege, received a special tribute for what French President Emmanuel Macron had described as a heroic act.

Lt-Col Beltrame died yesterday after being shot during the siege.

Other victims were a winegrower who had been in a car the attacker stole in Carcassonne, as well as a butcher and a shopper at the supermarket.

“A life given cannot be lost. It transcends misfortune to rally us in unity, it calls us to believe in life stronger than death,” regional Carcassonne and Narbonne Bishop Alain Planet said at the ceremony, which was also attended by representatives of the police and the Muslim community.

Flowers and messages in tribute to Lt-Col Beltrame were placed in front of the gendarmerie of the medieval city of Carcassonne, where he was based.

Several cities, the National Assembly and police stations across France flew their flags at half-mast in his honour.

Mr Macron decided yesterday that France would hold a national tribute to the police officer in the coming days.

“He fell as a hero, giving up his life to halt the murderous enterprise of a jihadist terrorist,” Mr Macron said in a statement.

The attacker was identified by authorities as Radouane Lakdim, a 25-year-old Moroccan-born French national from Carcassonne.

The so-called Islamic State militant group on Friday claimed responsibility for the attack.

Several hundred investigators devoted to the inquiry were still checking the claim and looking into possible help Lakdim could have received, Mr Macron’s office said.

Searches at the attacker’s home yesterday showed notes referring to Islamic State in what appeared to be a will, as well as a phone and a computer, judicial sources said.

Investigators also found three improvised explosive devices, a 7.65 mm handgun and a hunting knife in the supermarket, a source said.

Police were holding two people as part of the investigation- a woman connected to Lakdim and a 17-year-old boy said to be one of his friends.

Since 2015 more than 240 people have been killed in France in attacks by assailants who either pledged allegiance to Islamic State or were inspired by the group.

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