PARIS - Hundreds of friends, family and local officials attended a memorial service in Trebes on Sunday to honor the victims of the Islamist militant attack that killed a gendarme and three other people in southwest France.
Gendarme Arnaud Beltrame, 44, who voluntarily took the place of a female hostage during the supermarket siege on Friday in the tranquil town near the Pyrenees mountains, received a special tribute for what French President Emmanuel Macron had described as a heroic act.
Beltrame died on Saturday after being shot during the siege. Other victims were a winegrower who had been in a car the attacker stole in Carcassonne, as well as a butcher and a shopper at the supermarket.
"A life given can not be lost. It transcends misfortune to rally us in unity, it calls us to believe in life stronger than death," regional Carcassonne and Narbonne Bishop Alain Planet said at the ceremony, which was also attended by representatives of the police and the Muslim community.
US President Donald Trump emphasized Beltrame's heroic act on Sunday after sharing his "thoughts and prayers" with the victims of the attacks the previous day.
"France honors a great hero. Officer died after bravely swapping places with hostage in ISIS (Islamic State)-related terror attack," he said on Twitter.
Flowers and messages in tribute to Beltrame were placed in front of the gendarmerie of the medieval city of Carcassonne, where he was based. Several cities, the National Assembly and police stations across France flew their flags at half-mast in his honor.
Macron decided on Saturday that France would hold a national tribute to Beltrame in the coming days.
"He fell as a hero, giving up his life to halt the murderous enterprise of a jihadist terrorist," Macron said in a statement shortly before dawn on Saturday.
The attacker was identified by authorities as Radouane Lakdim, a 25-year-old Moroccan-born French national from Carcassonne.
The Islamic State militant group on Friday claimed responsibility for the attack.
Several hundred investigators devoted to the inquiry were still checking the claim and looking into possible help Lakdim could have received, Macron's office said.