GIGN Shoot Dead Islamic State Terrorist in French Supermarket
Elite Gendarmerie Unit Responds to Terrorist Attack in Trebes, France
“Allah Akbar” heard as Moroccan man fires shots.
The terrorist organisation Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Friday’s terrorist attck in southern France. Shooting and hostage-taking incidents took place in Carcassonn and Trebes that saw five people killed—including the suspect, who was shot dead by elite Gendarmerie personnel of the GIGN.
French officials said that two people had also been arrested in connection with the terrorism offences, including a woman who was reported to have been close to the assailant.
Moroccan Suspect Considered Potential Radical
The suspect has been identified as Redouane Lakdim, a 25-year-old Moroccan with a criminal record for drug dealing. He was reportedly under surveillance for potentially being an Islamic radical, although he was not considered a security threat.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Lakdim first shot dead a driver while stealing a car in the southern town of Carcassonne, then opened fire on police out jogging Friday morning, wounding one of them.
His next target was a supermarket in the nearby town of Trebes. Reports say Lakdim shouted “Allah Akbar,” fired into the air, and took hostages.
Brave Police Officer Swaps Places with Kidnap Victim
According to Collomb, a police officer volunteered to swap places with a hostage Lakdim was holding as protection. The policeman kept his mobile phone open so police outside could hear what was taking place. When they heard firing inside, they stormed the store.
Four people were killed in the incident, including the suspect. Another five were wounded, including the officer who volunteered as hostage. The police officer later died of his wounds.
Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame “Died for His Country”
Earlier Saturday, France’s interior minister said Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, the police officer who exchanged himself for the hostage, had died.
“He died for his country. France will never forget his heroism,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb wrote Saturday on his Twitter account.
Terrorist Demanded Release of Salah Abdeslam
Media reports say the assailant demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, considered the top surviving participant in the November 2015 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Abdeslam is currently in a high-security prison outside the capital.
One Trebes resident, who used to work at the supermarket where the attacks took place, told France Info radio that everyone in the small town is shocked and terrified.
GIGN Storm Super U in Trebes
After gunshots were heard at the Super U supernarket in Trebes, the specialist Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale (National Gendarmerie Intervention Group), stormed the building. Described as “an elite SWAT team” by the BBC, the GIGN is the elite tactical unit of the French National Gendarmerie and part of the French Armed Forces. Its missions include counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, surveillance of national threats, protection of government officials, and targeting organized crime.
The gunshot was heard over Lt-Col. Bertram’s phone, which he had deliberately left on. In response, GIGN operatives immediately stormed the supermarket at 2:40 pm and exchanged gunfire with the terrorist, killing him two minutes later. Two of the GIGN operatives were wounded. Shortly after, police dogs went into the building, and an ambulance and helicopter arrived in the car park.
“We train to be out the door, fully equipped and ready to go within 15 minutes of getting the call,” Capt. Nicolas, the GIGN commander, told NBC after the Bataclan siege in 2016. The elite response units use the best military equipment, including highly customized variants of the Heckler & Koch G36 5.56mm assault rifle, infrared optics and full-body armor capable of stopping multiple shots from high-powered small arms.
Amaq: Islamic State Claims Responsibility
After Macron said evidence suggested the gunman’s actions were considered terrorism, the Islamic State militant group’s propaganda arm claimed responsibility.
“The person who carried out the attack in Trebes in southern France is a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried out the operation in response to a call to target the states” of the anti-IS global coalition, the Amaq agency stated on the messaging app Telegram.
Collomb said Friday, however, that police had not considered 26-year-old suspect Redouane Lakdim, who was born in Morocco and lived in Carcassonne, a terrorist threat.
“He was known by the police for petty crimes. We had monitored him and did not think he had been radicalized,” Collomb said. He added, “He was already under surveillance when he suddenly decided to act.”
The Paris prosecutor’s office said counter-terrorism authorities had assumed control of the investigation.
Islamic Terrorist Attacks Continue to Evade Police
France has been on high alert after being hit with a series of Islamic State extremist attacks since 2015 that have killed more than 200 people. Under Operation Sentinelle, thousands of French soldiers are currently guarding high-profile public targets, such as the Eiffel Tower.
The events in southern France are eerily similar to the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris in 2015 — one of a string of terrorist attacks that year that left scores of people dead.
A year later, France was struck by another major attack — in the Riviera city of Nice that killed 86 people and left hundreds of others injured.
French authorities say they have foiled a large number of planned Islamic terrorist attacks.
Sources: Voice of America; BBC.