Gunman shot dead by police in southern France after killing three and taking hostages

World Today

Three people are dead in what officials say appears to be an Islamist-inspired attack in southern France.

The gunman was also shot dead and that prompted President Emmanuel Macron to praise the police for their quick response.

CGTN’s Elena Casas reports.

Follow Elena Casas on Twitter @ElenacMontanez

Shortly after 11 a.m. local time, a gunman that police identified as 26-year-old Redouane Lakdim hijacked a car in the southwestern French city of Carcassonne, killing the driver and seriously wounding the passenger.

He then opened fire from the car at a group of off-duty riot police jogging in civilian clothes, wounding one of them.

Authorities say Lakdim then drove to the supermarket in the small town of Trebes and opened fire, killing the shop’s butcher and a customer. He held other customers hostage when police closed in.

After an hours-long standoff, police stormed the market and the attacker was shot dead.

One officer was seriously injured after he offered to swap himself for one of the hostages. French authorities called him a hero, and President Emmanuel Macron praised the police response.

“The police in particular of the gendarmerie intervened in an extremely fast and coordinated way after the attack of which first of all the CRS was first attacked,” Macron said.

Lakdim was known locally as a petty criminal, who French media report was released from prison 18 months ago.

“We can say that he was more of a petty offender who at a given moment took action,” said Gerard Collomb, the French interior minister. “He was known for possession and dealing of drugs, but we couldn’t have said that he was a radical that would carry out an attack.”

During the standoff, Lakdim demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving assailant involved in the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. ISIL claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack online.

The interior minister called Redouane Lakdim’s claim to be acting for ISIL opportunistic and described him as a ‘lone wolf’. That would fit a pattern of recent attacks in France in which one person with no apparent links to radical Islam has suddenly murdered in its name.