A Moroccan national who had pledged allegiance to ISIS took hostages at a supermarket in Trebes, France today. After a standoff with authorities, French police stormed the supermarket, killing the suspect. However, he managed to kill two of the hostages before he was killed.
Earlier, the suspect killed a motorist during a carjacking and shot at a policeman before being chased to the supermarket.
The suspect, 26-year-old Redouane Lakdim, demanded French authorities release an ISIS terrorist in prison for the 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.
French police were familiar with Lakdim, who was described as a petty criminal, but had shown no indication of radicalization.
A picture of the supermarket where the hostage situation took place was posted on Twitter.
— Twitter News (@TwitterNews) March 23, 2018
He is believed to have killed and wounded his victims in three separate incidents which began in Carcassonne, 15 minutes’ drive from Trèbes.
He was said to have been heavily armed and demanding the release of Salah Abdeslam, the most important surviving suspect in the 13 November 2015 attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people.
Earlier, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said that all signs pointed towards a “terrorist act”.
The attacker began his spree of attacks in Carcassonne, say reports, where he first hijacked a car, killing one passenger and injuring the driver.
He then shot and wounded a policeman who was jogging with colleagues.
The suspect is then believed to have driven a few kilometres to Trèbes, where he charged in, shouting, “I am a soldier of Daesh [Islamic State]!” and took hostages in the Super-U supermarket in the small town.
Hundreds of police officers were deployed to the area and the vicinity was cordoned off.
A 45-year-old gendarme volunteered to swap himself for one of the hostages, say reports. He left his mobile phone line open during the operation so police could monitor the situation, Interior Minister Gérard Collomb told reporters.
When police heard gunshots on the phone line, they charged in to take control of the situation, during which the gunman was killed.
The gendarme, a lieutenant-colonel – who has been described by ministers as a hero – was reportedly injured.
As has been the case with past terror attacks in France, the suspect was already on the radar of authorities. They did not have evidence that he would commit a terror attack, however.
The Moroccan suspect was known to French intelligence services, said Mr Collomb.
“He was known for petty crimes. We had monitored him and thought there was no radicalisation,” he said, according to Reuters news agency.
Counter-terrorism prosecutors are leading the investigation.
France has been hit with several deadly jihadist attacks since 2015 and has been on high alert since. A state of emergency put in place after the 2015 attacks in Paris was lifted in October.
In February, Salah Abdeslam went on trial in Belgium over a shootout in Brussels that led to his capture months after the Paris attacks. He is not expected to go on trial in France until 2020 at the earliest.