HAMPSHIRE police has paid tribute to a hero officer who was killed by a terrorist after he swapped himself for a hostage during an Islamic extremist attack.
Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame had offered himself up unarmed to the 25-year-old attacker in exchange for a female hostage in the southern town of Trebes, in France.
It came after a gunman raided a supermarket, slaughtering terrified shoppers.
The heroic 45-year-old surreptitiously left his mobile phone on so his colleagues could hear what was going on inside.
He was later shot by Moroccan-born terrorist Redouane Lakdim. Counter-terrorism officers then stormed the supermarket and killed the gunman.
This morning colleague from the UK, as well as a Portsmouth MP, have paid tribute to the fallen hero’s ‘immense courage’.
Hampshire police tweeted: Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Saddened and in awe of Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame who gave up his own life to protect the innocent from a terrorist. #RIP #ThinBlueLine’
Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, said Lt Col Beltrame’s ‘quick thinking saved several lives’. The international development secretary said he had shown ‘incredible valour and sacrifice’.
Lt Col Beltrame’s death takes the number of people killed to four - in addition to the gunman - and 15 others were injured.
The terror started when Lakdim hijacked a car in the nearby city of Carcassonne - gravely wounding the driver and killing the passenger - before driving toward Trebes.
He shot at police officers before hiding in the supermarket, taking several people hostage.
During the resulting stand-off with police, Lakdim demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam – the only surviving member of the Islamic State cell that attacked Paris in 2015.
Lakdim killed two people before giving most of the hostages up, keeping one woman as a human shield, who Mr Beltrame traded places with.
President Emmanuel Macron had said of Mr Beltrame’s actions: ‘He saved lives and honoured his colleagues and his country.’