Updated: 28/03/18 : 14:45:00
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World :: President Macron leads tributes to 'hero' police officer Arnaud Beltrame

French President Emmanuel Macron has led tributes to Arnaud Beltrame, the "hero" policeman who died after swapping himself for a hostage in a jihadist attack, saying he symbolised the "French spirit of resistance".

At a solemn ceremony at the Invalides military museum in Paris, Mr Macron compared Lieutenant Colonel Beltrame's sacrifice to those of France's Second World War heroes and said his example would "remain etched in French hearts".

He said: "To accept to die so the innocent can live: that is the essence of what it means to be a soldier. Others, even many who are brave, would have wavered or hesitated."

Mr Beltrame, 44, voluntarily swapped himself for the last remaining hostage, a female store worker, during Friday's siege at a supermarket in Trebes, south west France.

He died in hospital from his injuries after being shot three times by radical Islamist Redouane Lakdim, 25, who killed three people and injured 16, two seriously, during the attack.

The shooting of Mr Beltrame, relayed outside via his mobile phone, which he laid down with the line left open, prompted counter-terror officers to storm the supermarket and shoot the terrorist dead.

Mr Macron delivered a public eulogy in front of Mr Beltrame's family and fellow officers and posthumously awarded him the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest award.

The ceremony, part of a day of national homage that began a minute's silence in French police stations, also features events in schools.

The service was attended by three former presidents, Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Valery Giscard d'Estaing, as well as around 2,000 high school students and dozens of police officers.

The coffin, draped in a tricolor, was driven through Paris in heavy rain along streets lined with people, while officers stood to attention as the cortege passed.