Armed police have shot dead an armed gunman, concluding a hostage crisis in the southern town of Trèbes.
Three victims are thought to have been killed by the gunman on Friday, and President Emmanuel Macron later said that sixteen people had also been injured.
The gunman, who has been named as 26 year old Redouane Lakdim, had said that he was fighting for the Islamic State. President Macron has called the event an act of ‘Islamist terrorism’.
Friday’s victims are thought to have been killed and wounded across three separate incidents, beginning in Carcassone, fifteen minutes drive away from Trèbes.
The day’s tragic events began on Friday morning, when the gunman hijacked a car in Carcassone, killing a passenger and injuring the driver of the vehicle. He then shot and wounded a policeman who was out jogging with colleagues.
The gunman afterwards drove to Trèbes, where he charged into the Super-U supermarket shouting “I am a soldier of Daesh [Islamic State]”. Police officers managed to evacuate several people, but the gunman held one woman back as a hostage, using her as a human shield.
A gendarme, later hailed as a hero, offered to swap places with the woman, keeping an open line on his phone so that police outside could monitor the situation.
When police heard shooting, an elite swat team stormed the supermarket. The gunman was killed but the gendarme was seriously injured and another police officer was also hurt. The gendarme, a 45 year old Lieutenant Colonel who has not been named, is now fighting for his life in hospital.
According to French Interior Minister, Gérard Collomb, Lakdim, who was reportedly from a Moroccan background, was known to intelligence services. According to Collomb, Lakdim was known to authorities for petty crimes, but was not considered a security threat. “We had monitored him and thought there was no radicalisation,” Collomb said.
Lakdim is also suspected of having made a trip to Syria, although that report is unconfirmed.