France paid final tribute Wednesday to a gendarme who was killed in last Friday’s terror attack after volunteering to switch places with a civilian hostage.
The coffin carrying Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame was driven in heavy rain through Paris, where a national memorial service was held and a minute of silence was observed at 10 a.m. (0800GMT).
Beltrame, 44, was shot and stabbed after he offered to change places with one of the captives in an armed supermarket siege in southern France.
President Emmanuel Macron said the officer symbolized the "French spirit of resistance".
"To be willing to die so that innocent people continue to live, this is the heart of a soldier's promise," Macron told a remembrance ceremony held at Les Invalides in the French capital.
Present at the ceremony were Beltrame's widow, dozens of his friends, family, colleagues, politicians, and several former French presidents.
"To be ready to give your own life because nothing is more important than the life of a citizen, this is the ultimate effect of the transcendence he bore," Macron added.
The French leader awarded the officer France's highest accolade, the Legion of Honor.
Police looking into attacker's girlfriend and friend
Last Friday’s terrorist attacker, identified as Redouane Lakdim, 25, was born in Morocco before coming to France at age 2 and becoming a citizen at age 12.
Lakdim, who was known by intelligence services and on a watchlist of suspected extremists, last Friday killed a butcher and an elderly shopper when he stormed the Super U supermarket in Trebes.
He earlier opened fire at a group of off-duty police, seriously injuring one, and shot dead a man when hijacking a car in the nearby town of Carcassonne.
During the siege, Lakdim said he was acting on behalf of terrorist group Daesh and demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect in the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks awaiting trial.
Lakdim had also been sentenced in 2011 for weapons possession and for narcotics in March 2015. According to media reports, he was summoned by anti-terror police for questioning before the attack but failed to respond to set up an appointment.
His girlfriend, 18, who has been known to security services for at least a year, was placed under formal investigation on Tuesday, accused of "associating with terrorists preparing attacks," and remains in police custody.
One other person, a 17-year-old friend of the gunman, was released on Monday after being questioned.
This is the first suspected terrorist incident since Macron lifted a two-year state of emergency last fall and toughened anti-terror laws.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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