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France pays tribute to hero gendarme killed in terrorist attack

rfi English, Mar 28

President Emmanuel Macron led a national ceremony on Wednesday honouring Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame who died offering himself as a hostage in a jihadist attack.

Lieutenant-Colonel Beltrame, 44, was the fourth and final victim in the shooting spree last Friday in the towns of Carcassonne and nearby Trebes.

"In giving his life to bring to an end the deadly actions of a jihadist terrorist, he died a hero," Macron said ahead of the ceremony.France has lost more than 240 lives to jihadists over the past three years, and the attack is the country's worst since Macron became president last May.

Around 200 of Beltrame's colleagues from the gendarmerie, a national police force which is part of the military, attended the ceremony at the Invalides museum in Paris.

Speaking at the ceremony , Macron hailed Lieutenant-Colonel Beltrame as a symbol of the “French spirit of resistance” and urged the nation to be vigilant in the face of an “insidious” jihadist threat.

“The name of his attacker will be forgotten, but the name of Arnaud Beltrame will live on,” Macron said.

The President vowed to ensure “he will not have died in vain”.

“His example will remain etched in French hearts,” Macron told hundreds gathered in the rain at the historic Invalides military museum and hospital in central Paris.

Across the country, police stations paused for a minute's silence in the morning.

The coffin of Beltrame, who was married, was flown in from Carcassonne on Tuesday, draped in the French flag with his military cap laid upon it.

His coffin will be flown back to the Aude, for a burial service on Thursday.

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