Posts Tagged ‘French police officer’

French Police Officer is National Hero After Islamic State Hostage Attack — Baltrame volunteered to take the place of a female hostage, left his phone on to help police

March 24, 2018

AFP and The Associated Press

© Via @gerardcollomb (Ministre d’État, Ministre de l’Intérieur) | Col. Arnaud Beltrame succumbed to his injuries Saturday, March 24, 2018.


Latest update : 2018-03-24

A French police officer who offered himself up to an extremist gunman in exchange for a hostage has died of his injuries, the interior minister said Saturday.

Col. Arnaud Beltrame was among the first officers to respond to the attack on the supermarket in the south of France on Friday. His death, announced by French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, raises the toll to four. The gunman was also killed, and 15 people were injured in the attack.

The gunman first hijacked a car and opened fire on police, then took hostages inside a supermarket. Baltrame volunteered to take the place of a female hostage and surreptitiously left on his cellphone so police outside could hear what was happening inside the store.

Officials said the decision was made to storm the building when they heard shots fired.


© France24 screengrab | Col. Arnaud Beltrame succumbed to his injuries Saturday, March 24, 2018.

Le lieutenant-colonel Arnaud Beltrame nous a quittés.
Mort pour la patrie.
Jamais la France n’oubliera son héroïsme, sa bravoure, son sacrifice.
Le coeur lourd, j’adresse le soutien du pays tout entier à sa famille, ses proches et ses compagnons de la @Gendarmerie de l’Aude.

French President Emmanuel Macron said investigators will focus on establishing how the gunman, identified by prosecutors as Moroccan-born Redouane Lakdim, got his weapon and how he became radicalized.

On Friday night, authorities searched a vehicle and a building in central Carcassonne.

Lakdim was known to police for petty crime and drug dealing. But he was also under surveillance and since 2014 was on the so-called “Fiche S” list, a government register of individuals suspected of being radicalized but who have yet to perform acts of terrorism.

Despite this, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said there was “no warning sign” that Lakdim would carry out an attack.

A woman close to Lakdim was taken into custody over alleged links with a terrorist enterprise, Molins said. He did not identify her.

The four-hour drama began at 10:13 a.m. when Lakdim hijacked a car near Carcassonne, killing one person in the car and wounding the other, the prosecutor said.

Lakdim then fired six shots at police officers who were on their way back from jogging near Carcassonne, said Yves Lefebvre, secretary general of SGP Police-FO police union. The police were wearing athletic clothes with police insignia. One officer was hit in the shoulder, but the injury was not serious, Lefebvre said.

Lakdim then went to a Super U supermarket in nearby Trebes, 60 miles (100 kilometers) southeast of Toulouse, shooting and killing two people in the market and taking an unknown number of hostages. Special police units converged on the scene while authorities blocked roads and urged residents to stay away.


Armed gendarmes stand outside the Super U after their assault Friday on the supermarket where a gunman was holding hostages in Trebes, southern France.Guillaume Horcajuelo / EPA


He shouted “Allahu akbar! (God is great)” and said he was a “soldier of the Islamic State” as he entered the Super U, where about 50 people were inside, Molins said.

“We heard an explosion – well, several explosions,” shopper Christian Guibbert told reporters. “I went to see what was happening and I saw a man lying on the floor and another person, very agitated, who had a gun in one hand and a knife in the other.”

Three dead after jihadist goes on shooting rampage in southern France
French security and police gather outside the Super U supermarket in the town of Trebes. Photo: AFP

During the standoff, Lakdim requested the release of Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving assailant of the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead. The interior minister suggested, however, that Abdeslam’s release wasn’t a key motive for the attack.

The IS-linked Aamaq news agency said the attacker was responding to the group’s calls to target countries in the U.S.-led coalition carrying out airstrikes against IS militants in Syria and Iraq since 2014. France has been repeatedly targeted because of its participation.

France has been on high alert since a series of extremist attacks in 2015 and 2016 that killed more than 200 people.


See also:

The French officer who offered himself for a hostage now fights for his life, but his bravery saved lives


French suburbs violent again over ‘aggressive’ policing — “This is just the highly mediatised tip of the iceberg.”

February 9, 2017


© AFP / by Adam PLOWRIGHT | Experts say successive governments have subscribed to the belief that ‘the start of good behaviour comes with being scared of the police’ 

AULNAY-SOUS-BOIS (FRANCE) (AFP) – “Everyone against the wall.” The French police operation that has sparked nights of clashes and a national controversy started like thousands of others — in the country’s deprived suburbs.It was a routine stop-and-search on the “3,000” estate in Aulnay-sous-Bois north of Paris by a group of four armed officers — a commonplace event but widely resented by local young people.

It ended with Theo, a 22-year-old talented footballer with no criminal record, being treated in hospital for severe injuries to his anus and rectal area, as well as head and face wounds.

He says one of the officers assaulted him with a baton, which has led to rape charges against him. All four have been suspended pending an investigation.

“Unless you’ve grown up on an estate, you can’t understand what it’s like here,” local man Chris, a 27-year-old security guard, told AFP. “The police that we see are aggressive. Insults are normal, so is violence.”

What has particularly angered people in the estate, a melting pot of different cultures and daily resentments, is that it happened to Theo, a well-liked local whose family is respected.

“When I hear (from the police version) that he hit a policeman, I don’t believe it. With others, you could imagine, but not him,” added Chris, who has known the family since childhood.

President Francois Hollande visited Theo in hospital on Tuesday.

– Police as enforcers –

The incident has again cast a spotlight on the problem of community policing, with the scandal inevitably becoming a political issue in a presidential election year.

“There’s an almost permanent hostility against the police,” academic Christian Mouhanna from the state-funded CNRS research centre told AFP.

“This is just the highly mediatised tip of the iceberg.”

At the entrance to the estate, where around 10 police vans are parked after nights of clashes and car-burning, a graffiti tag commonly found in the suburbs states it simply: “Fuck The Police!”

Part of the problem, says Mouhanna, is that for decades, governments have followed an old adage that says: “the start of good behaviour comes with being scared of the police.”

This idea of the police as enforcers, rather than public servants, is wrongly ingrained in the training and the culture of the security forces, he says.

Furthermore, reforms in the last 10 years have progressively removed vital local police from communities, while giving officers greater powers and more weapons.

In the latest example, the French parliament is debating a law drafted in the wake of a series of terror attacks that would give police more freedom to use firearms.

“If we want the police to have authority, there needs to be a sense of legitimacy,” he added. “But if you show authority only by force and that’s how you manage relations with local people, then there’s no legitimacy.”

On “3,000”, around a dozen young people who spoke to AFP this week gave similar accounts of aggressive and widespread stop-and-search checks.

“There’s no communication with young people,” 24-year-old Babacar, an electrical engineer, told AFP. “As long as there’s no mutual respect, it’ll never get better.”

Others note that no politician has bothered to visit the scene.

“They’re scared of the estates. They think we’re savages,” Babacar adds over the noise of a circling police helicopter.

– ‘Dialogue non-existent’ –

The police appear equally resentful.

“Why are you (the media) dragging us through the mud?” one police officer told AFP. “There’s a presumption of innocence, right? They (the officers) have got family and children too. Think about them.”

Thousands of police staged spontaneous demonstrations last October after a firebomb attack on a patrol car south of Paris left a young officer with severe burns and in a coma.

Many held placards with “Tired of being a target” written on them.

A senior officer in the Essonne area where the patrol car was attacked last year says police do their best to work with local communities.

“We try to speak to them when they’re still minors, but they’re completely closed up, they don’t realise the consequences for their futures,” Hanem Hamouda told AFP.

“Dialogue is non-existent.”

– Victim calls for calm –

Frederic Lagache, secretary general of the police union Alliance, says “relations between the police and the people are good, except where there’s criminality.”

For the moment, “3,000” has calmed down after Theo issued an appeal from his hospital bed for his supporters to “stop the war, be united.”

Much now hinges on the judicial investigation, which many locals fear will exonerate the officers.

An initial police investigation concluded that video footage showed an officer “applying a truncheon blow horizontally across the buttocks” after Theo’s trousers “slipped down on their own”.

“It’s calmed down now,” said 24-year-old Mohamed, who like all other locals refused to give his surname. “But we want justice. If not, it’s going to go off again, worse than 2005.”

That year saw mass riots centred around the same deprived area in the northern suburbs of Paris towards Charles de Gaulle airport. Around 10,000 cars were burned and 6,000 people were arrested.


French leaders try to stem fury over alleged police rape

February 7, 2017

© AFP/File / by Adam PLOWRIGHT | People hold signs reading “Justice for Theo” during a protest on February 6, 2017 in Aulnay-sous-Bois, northern Paris, a day after a French police officer was charged with the rape of a youth injured after allegedly being sodomized with a baton

PARIS (AFP) – The French government sought Tuesday to calm growing anger over the alleged rape of a man during his arrest in a Paris suburb last week, after a third night of violent clashes with police.

A 22-year-old black youth worker named as Theo required surgery after his arrest on Thursday when he claims a police officer sodomized him with his baton.

One officer has been charged with rape and three others with assault over the incident in the tough Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois which has revived past controversies over alleged police brutality.

“I know how police officers are exposed in the fight against terrorism and violence, but they have to be exemplary at every moment,” Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told parliament.

He urged the “utmost severity” if the officers, all of whom have been suspended, are found to have committed a crime.

French President Francois Hollande went to visit Theo in hospital in the gritty mostly high-rise area on the outskirts of Paris, staying for half an hour at his bedside, an aide told AFP.

For the third night in a row, police intervened on Monday night on the vast “3,000” housing estate in Aulnay-sous-Bois to control local youths who burned cars and damaged public property, police said.

A total of 26 people were arrested and some police officers fired shots in the air after finding themselves cornered at one point, a police source told AFP.

– ‘Public order problem’ –

The mayor of the area, Bruno Beschizza, sought to reassure residents that “we are not at the stage where there will be riots” but he called for the French state to react.

“For the moment it’s a public order problem,” he said in a statement which urged the interior ministry to demonstrate that the justice system was working for local people “not against them.”

Hundreds of people incensed by the treatment of Theo, who comes from a well-respected family in the area, marched Monday through Aulnay-sous-Bois in a peaceful demonstration.

The case has again cast a spotlight on the contentious issue of policing in France’s poor suburbs after protests over the death of a black man in custody last year and major riots a decade ago.

Police say they are frequently targeted by delinquents as they play a game of cat-and-mouse with gangs and drug dealers in tough multi-ethnic parts of French suburbs.

Officers staged nationwide protests in October to denounce their work conditions after the firebombing of a police car which left an officer in a coma.

A police officer stands guard near a burned police vehicle (back) and a van in Viry-Chatillon on October 8, 2016 after police in their patrol car were attacked by individuals who launched Molotov cocktails, leaving two officers injured. Two officers were "seriously injured" when ten individuals launched Molotov cocktails at their vehicle, according to a police source. The officers in their vehicle were responsible for monitoring footage from a camera near a traffic light in Viry-Chatillon. / AFP PHOTO / Thomas SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images

A police officer stands guard near the burned police vehicle and a van in Viry-Chatillon (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

The far-right National Front has sought to cast itself as the defender of security forces, with leader Marine Le Pen saying Tuesday that her “basic principle” was to support the police unless a crime had been committed.

France goes to the polls to elect a new president in April and May and a new parliament in June.

In 2005, the death of two teenagers who were electrocuted while hiding from police in an electricity substation sparked weeks of riots. Around 10,000 cars were burned and 6,000 people were arrested.