Thailand cave rescue: Meet the 'A-Team' of heroic volunteer British divers who led search

Thailand cave rescue: Meet the 'A-Team' of heroic volunteer British divers who led searchFor the heroic British divers who found a missing Thai football team in a flooded cave system, it was only the latest in a series of brave rescue missions around the globe. Rick Stanton, 56, and 47-year-old John Volanthen had been called in by the Thai authorities last week along with fellow British caving experts Robert Harper, from Somerset, and Vern Unsworth. The UK divers who reached the stranded group that had been missing for nine days were described as the “A Team” by Bill Whitehouse, vice chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council. He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “They are really the sort of A-Team, if you like. They have been at the spearhead of making their way through because they have the skills and expertise to do it. “One of the first things they had to do in pushing through is lay a guideline so that they could get out again and so others could follow along.” Voices heard on a video of the moment the group was discovered in the cave belong to Mr Stanton and Mr Volanthen. Video: The moment UK divers found trapped group The pair have established a reputation as being among the greatest cave rescue divers on the planet – but both have day jobs in the UK. Mr Stanton has been a firefighter in Coventry for quarter of a century, while Mr Volanthen is an IT consultant based in Bristol. Both are volunteers with the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team. In 2011, the pair set a world record for the longest cave dive, penetrating 9km (5.5 miles) down a system in northern Spain using specially developed equipment. Three British cave-divers: Rick Stanton (left), Robert Harper (centre) and John Volanthen Credit: AFP John Volanthen: IT engineer who took up diving as Boy Scout John Volanthen, an IT consultant based in Bristol, took up diving as a Boy Scout and studied electronics at De Montfort University, Leicester. When not diving, he spends his spare time running ultra-marathons of up to 153 miles. It was Mr Volanthen’s voice that was heard on a video released by the Thai government, asking the footballers “How many of you? Thirteen? Brilliant.” British diver John Volanthen removes his diving suit after walking out from Tham Luang Nang Non cave Credit: Linh Pham /Getty He has described himself as the opposite of an adrenaline junkie. “Panic and adrenaline are great in certain situations, but not in cave-diving,” he told a newspaper at the time. “The last thing you want is any adrenaline whatsoever. You’re in an environment that doesn’t suffer fools gladly. “I enjoy the logistical challenge, getting us and all our kit to the end of such a long cave. It’s like that puzzle with the fox, the chicken and the grain. “It’s not dangerous if you do it right – there are just a large number of little things that you have to be on top of at all times.” Thai cave rescuer John Volanthen lives in Bristol Credit: Facebook Mr Volanthen, originally from Brighton, attended Westminster University and has worked in Bristol for the past 20 years, according to his LinkedIn page. He told the Sunday Times magazine in 2013: “Panic and adrenaline are great in certain situations but not in cave-diving. What you want is nice and boring. “If something goes wrong 10 kilometres down an underwater tunnel, you usually have until your air runs out to find a solution or make your peace.” Rick Stanton: Firefighter inspired by TV show to explore caves With Mr Volanthen was Rick Stanton, who began diving aged 18 to explore caves after being inspired by a television programme. Mr Stanton – a firefighter from Coventry, West Midlands – was awarded an MBE for his rescue work in 2013. At the time, he said: “When I got notification of this on behalf of the Palace I was absolutely astounded. I’m just doing work I enjoy to the best of my ability.” One of Mr Stanton’s neighbours in Coventry told The Telegraph said: “I don’t know too much about him as he’s always away – probably going on dives I think.  “I’m not sure how long he’s been diving, but when I heard what he had done I thought it was quite incredible.” Another said: “I actually don’t know him, but now I might have to go round and congratulate him when he’s back.” Rick Stanton arrives at the Tham Luang caves during the search Credit: SOE ZEYA TUN /Reuters Neighbour Tina O’Brien, a 65-year-old legal personal assistant, said: “He’s been a person who travels a lot. He used to do potholing before he got into diving so that’s probably why he was so good in the cave.  “He’s a very calm person, quite quiet. He has lived here for a long time.”  Ex-serviceman Ray Reid, who has known Mr Stanton for a number of years, said: “He certainly has the expertise and skills. “He’s a very down-to-earth guy – doesn’t look like your typical action hero.”  Rick Stanton has been a firefighter for more than 20 years Credit: Coventry Telegraph  His MBE was partly for his efforts, along with Mr Volanthen, in attempting to rescue French potholer Eric Establie, who got trapped in the Draggonniere Gaude cave system, in the Ardeche region, in 2010. Mr Establie, who was known by both divers, had become trapped by a silt avalanche nearly a kilometre into a dark, water-filled tunnel. Only a handful of rescue divers in the world had the expertise to find him and the British pair were flown in on an RAF helicopter British cave-diver Rick Stanton walks out from Tham Luang Nang Non cave in full kit Credit: Linh Pham /Getty Working in visibility of less than a foot, they managed to find the blockage in the tunnel, get through it and locate the potholer’s body. At the time, Mr Volanthen said: “Eric would have done the same for us, so there was never any question of us not going.”  Both men were awarded a bronze medal from the Royal Humane Society in recognition of their rescue attempt in the Ardeche Gorge, southern France. Mr Stanton was also involved in a high profile rescue of British cavers in Mexico in 2004. He and other divers reached British servicemen who had been trapped by flooding inside the Alpazat cavern system in the Central American jungle. Rick Stanton, right, and Robert Harper, left, in Mae Sai Credit: Sakchai Lalit /AP The rescuers led them out one by one after equipping them with scuba gear, a process that took six hours. He told the Coventry Telegraph at the time: “My biggest achievement was helping rescue the six soldiers. They were trapped for nine days and we had to teach a few of them to dive through a considerable length of passage to get them out.” Regarded as one of the world’s leading cave rescue experts, he told publication Divernet that diving is a “hobby” he does voluntarily. ‘We’ve got a job to do’: Staying out of limelight despite heroics Mr Stanton occasionally gives technical lectures about diving, but he and Mr Volanthen have generally remained out of the limelight despite their heroics. As they entered the Tham Luang caves in Thaland to look for the missing football team, Mr Volanthen summed up their approach. “We’ve got a job to do,” he said, before disappearing into the darkness. Rick Stanton, left, and John Volanthen have stayed out of the limelight Credit: AP Celebrations quickly turn to challenges ahead Bill Whitehouse, vice chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council, said he had expected the Britons to reach the group first as they were by far the most experienced involved in the search. But he said some of the hardest work was still to come as they coordinated a dangerous rescue. “The were doing the push-ahead and laying down the guidelines for others to follow,” he said. “It is completely restricted with very dark tunnels and poor conditions, mud banks and areas that need excavating. They pushed forward on each dive, laying line and clearing the way. “The Seals were following leaving dumps of air bottles in preparation for a rescue operation.” The boys and football coach when they found in the cave Credit: Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center/AP Mr Whitehouse said that when the Brits arrived last week they did a couple of recce dives to assess the situation. But conditions rapidly and “cataclysmically” worsened over the weekend as bad weather meant rising water and a strong current before the rain eased off and diving could begin again. He added: “Diving them out will not be an easy process. It is difficult enough with just one person but when you have several terrified children who are not divers..  It will take a lot of planning, a lot of equipment and a lot of preparation.” The group of schoolboys on their trip before getting trapped in a flooded cave in Chiang Rai Credit: Viral Press  Mr Whitehouse described how celebrations on Monday that the group had been found quickly turned to the challenge ahead. “It was euphoria for a moment and then you draw back and think ‘what do we do’ – it’s not going to be easy to get 13 people out of a flooded cave,” he said. “There’s space to make your way through, but it is 50/50 underwater over 1.5km (0.9mi). That’s still a lot of diving and it’s possible it will need a lot of equipment. The questions is how much time until the water goes up again.”

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Box Office: 'Incredibles 2' Shatters Records With Heroic $180 Million Opening

  1. Box Office: ‘Incredibles 2’ Shatters Records With Heroic $180 Million Opening  Variety
  2. ‘Incredibles 2’ Even Stronger As Pixar Pic Soars To Amazing $181M – Early Sunday Update  Deadline
  3. Petition · The Walt Disney Company: Issue an Epilepsy Warning for Incredibles 2 ·
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Heroic Raccoon Captivates World by Climbing Minnesota Skyscraper

  1. Heroic Raccoon Captivates World by Climbing Minnesota Skyscraper  Daily Beast
  2. Daredevil raccoon’s Minnesota skyscraper climb  BBC News
  3. St. Paul raccoon lured into trap with cat food after scaling skyscraper  CBS News
  4. The internet is cheering for this raccoon stuck on a ledge of a high rise building  Mashable
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Weekend Box Office: 'Avengers: Infinity War' Earns Heroic $112.5M in Second Outing

  1. Weekend Box Office: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Earns Heroic $112.5M in Second Outing  Hollywood Reporter
  2. Box Office: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Scores Second-Biggest Second Weekend Ever  Variety
  3. Avengers: Infinity War dominates box office again with $112.5M second weekend (blog)
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Macron hails French resistance spirit of heroic gendarme who swapped himself for hostage

Macron hails French resistance spirit of heroic gendarme who swapped himself for hostagePresident Emmanuel Macron has led a national ceremony this morning paying tribute to a heroic policeman who died after swapping with a female hostage during a jihadist attack. Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, 44, was was killed along with three others in the shooting spree last Friday in the southwestern towns of Carcassonne and nearby Trebes. “His greatness has stunned France,” Mr Macron told family members, hundreds of dignitaries and “brothers in arms” at a solemn ceremony at Paris’ Invalides near Napoleon’s tomb. “The intolerable can never win the day,” said the president. His act was the epitome of France’s “spirit of resistance” against Islamist barbarity, he added. Mr Beltrame who had been part of an elite unit, had taken the place of a female employee held as a final hostage in a supermarket by 25-year-old gunman Radouane Lakdim, who pledged allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Emmanuel Macron places his hands on the flag-draped coffin of Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame Credit: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images Mr Macron posthumously made the slain gendarme the commander of the Legion of Honour. The president placed France’s highest award on Mr Beltrame’s coffin draped in the French flag with his military cap laid upon it. France has lost more than 240 lives to jihadists over the past three years, but this attack was the country’s worst since Mr Macron became president last May. Earlier, police stations paused for a minute’s silence. Soldiers carry the coffin of Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame Credit: AP Photo/Christophe Ena The Islamist assailant had also shot dead the passenger of a car he hijacked in Carcassonne and two people in the supermarket he had besieged in Trebes. Mr Beltrame took the place of the woman Lakdim was using as a human shield, but the Islamist shot the gendarme and slit his throat, leading police to intervene and shoot the attacker dead. Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame offered himself as a hostage in the jihadist attack Credit: LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images According to Le Parisien, it appears Mr Beltrame may have died after trying to disarm the assailant, who may have used his own weapon against him. Mr Macron said the gunman’s disregard for human life mirrored that of the murderer of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year old Holocaust survivor found dead in her Paris flat last Friday. Republican Guards and cadets from the joint-army military school carried the coffin Credit: Ludovic Marin/AFP Two men have been charged with her killing, which investigators are treating as anti-Semitic.  The pair attacked “an innocent and vulnerable woman because she was Jewish and who thus profaned our sacred values and our memory,” said Mr Macron. Police in Rotterdam observe a minute of silence in memory of Lt Col Beltrame Credit: ROBIN UTRECHT/AFP/Getty Images A solemn march will be held this evening in memory, but the event was hit with controversy after France’s main Jewish umbrella group, Crif, said far-Left and Right leaders were not welcome. Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon say they will attend regardless, while the victim’s son said it was wrong to ban people. Mr Macron’s government has meanwhile come under fire from Right-wing opponents who claim that the attack could have been prevented. Lakdim had been on a list of suspected extremists since 2014 and was being monitored. Gendarmes escorted the coffin Credit: LAURENTETIENNE LAURENT/AFP/Getty Images  He had been summoned by anti-terror police for questioning earlier this month, but Gérard Collomb, the interior minister confirmed today that agents had decided to lower surveillance a notch before the attack. He said “ultimately no one thought that there would be a hasty attack” by Lakdim, a Moroccan-born French resident with dual nationality. How could they know he would act hours after taking a child to school, he asked. The solemn funeral ceremony took in the courtyard of Les Invalides Credit: Chesnot/Getty Images Far-Right leader Marine Le Pen accused the government of exploiting the grief over Beltrame to “escape from its own incompetence and cowardice” in failing to tackle Islamic extremism. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe hit back at the criticism Tuesday. “Those who say ignorantly that this attack could have been avoided, those who promise people zero risk – I say to them, these people bear a heavy responsibility in speaking so casually,” Mr Philippe told parliament.

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Heroic French officer Arnaud Beltrame dies after switching himself for hostage in France supermarket

Heroic French officer Arnaud Beltrame dies after switching himself for hostage in France supermarketGunman shot dead after taking hostages in Trebes, France Attacker named as petty criminal Redouane Lakdim, 26 At least two people killed in store and dozen more wounded Attacker also shot a driver in the head and stole his car Gunman ‘shouted Allahu Akbar’ and ‘said he supported Isil’ Military officer, 45, dies in hospital after swapping himself for hostage A French policeman shot by an Islamist gunman when he swapped himself for a hostage in a supermarket siege has died. Arnaud Beltrame, a lieutenant-colonel in the gendarmerie, was hailed a hero after the attacker – who killed four people in a shooting spree – was shot dead by police.  Mr Beltrame was among the officers who rushed to the scene when the assailant stormed the store in the southwest town of Trèbes, firing on shoppers and staff before taking a hostage. Gérard Collomb, the interior minister, announced early on Saturday that Mr Beltrame had passed away after he was reportedly hit by several bullets and one injury to the throat. “Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame has left us. France will never forget his heroism, his bravery, his sacrifice.”  Arnaud Beltrame, the policeman who died after being seriously injured during the siege, was praised by Emmanuel Macron Credit:  BOYER Claude In an interview in December with the local Independent newspaper, Mr Beltrame said he had taken part in an attack simulation in Carcassonne that centred around a mass attack in a supermarket. “A mass killing took place in a supermarket. This is the only information that was given to the police,” he was quoted by the newspaper as saying, describing the simulation scenario. “We want to be closer to real conditions, so there is no pre-established scenario”. Emmanuel Macron, the French President, called Mr Beltrame a hero. “He saved lives and honoured his colleagues and his country,” President Macron said of the officer. Arnaud Beltrame poses for a photo in Avranches, western France Credit: AP The gunman was identified as 26-year-old Redouane Lakdim, a petty criminal of Moroccan origin who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). He opened fire on passengers in a car, killing one of them, then shoot dead another two people at the supermarket.  The gunman was eventually killed in the police assault after a standoff of more than three hours. He reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he burst into the Super U store on the outskirts of the picturesque medieval town of around 5,000 inhabitants. Eyewitnesses told French media that Lakdim demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the 2015 Paris jihadist attacks that killed 130 people, and said he was taking revenge for the international coalition bombing Isil targets in Syria. “He was known by the police for petty crimes, we had monitored him and did not think he had been radicalised,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters at the scene in Trebes. Radouane Lakdim, who authorities have named as the 26-year-old attacker responsible for the death of at least three people in southwest France Credit: Getty Lakdim was described by a neighbour as a “pleasant young man” who lived with his parents and sisters in a flat in Carcassonne, taking the youngest children to school every day. The incident in Trèbes came as France is still on high alert after suffering a string of terror attacks since January 2015. Lakdim began his shooting spree in his home town, whose huge medieval castle makes it a tourist hotspot, around 10 am local time when he hijacked a car, shooting dead a passenger and seriously injuring its driver. Then he fired at a group of CRS riot policemen who were jogging near the castle in Carcassonne and wounded one of them. Gendarmes and police officers at the supermarket after the hostage situation in Trebes Credit: REGIS DUVIGNAU /Reuters The attacker then drove off towards Trèbes, about five miles away, where he dumped the hijacked vehicle in the car park of a supermarket before storming into the Super U store, and shooting dead a shop worker and a customer. Other customers and staff fled or hid, with one group hiding themselves in the supermarket’s cold store Christian Guibbert was one of them. He described how he heard gunshots when he arrived at the supermarket with his wife and sister-in-law, who hid in the cold room while he called police. He saw the attacker holding a handgun and a knife screaming “Allahu Akbar” and ordering people to get on the ground. “At one point he saw me and took after me with his knife,” Mr Guibbert told Reuters. “Then I looked back and he wasn’t there any more and I slipped out of an emergency exit.” Police arrived shortly after the start of the siege at around 11am. “They managed to get some of the people out,” said Interior Minister Collomb, but the attacker kept one woman hostage to use as a human shield. Carcassonne shooing – locator map It was then that Mr Beltrame, the 45-year-old lieutenant-colonel, offered to take the woman’s place and remained holed up with Lakdim while negotiations to end the standoff continued. The officer “left his telephone on the table”, switched on, to allow police surrounding the building in to listen in, said Mr Collomb. “When we heard shots the GIGN (an elite police force) intervened,” the minister said. A team of about a dozen officers entered the building and quickly shot dead the attacker. ‘We got him, we got him!,” one police officer shouted as he re-emerged from the building, according to an eyewitness account by a journalist from the local newspaper La Depeche. An officer from the GIGN team was also hurt in the operation to neutralise the gunman. 3:37PM Theresa May: We stand in solidarity with our friends and allies in France After the “cowardly” attacks, Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said Britain stands “in solidarity with our friends and allies in France, just as they always stand with us”: PM: My thoughts are with the victims of the cowardly attacks in Trèbes and Carcassonne. We stand in solidarity with our friends and allies in France, just as they always stand with us.— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) March 23, 2018 3:25PM Elite officer who swapped places with hostage kept phone on so colleagues could hear conversation with attacker The unnamed police officer who volunteered to swap his place with a hostage managed to leave his phone on so his colleagues outside could hear his conversation with the attacker. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb praised the “heroism” of the 45-year-old lieutenant-colonel, who suffered a bullet wound during the assault in which the hostage-taker was shot dead by police and is seriously injured. Mr Collomb said he managed to leave his mobile phone switched on after the swap, establishing a contact with officers outside the supermarket in the stand-off. Mr Collomb said elite French forces stormed the market and killed the gunman after hearing gunshots inside. He did not say how or when the police officer was injured. French security and police gather outside the Super U supermarket in the town of Trebes Credit: PASCAL PAVANI /AFP France Info radio reported that police at first negotiated with the attacker and persuaded him to agree to swap an unspecified number of hostages – perhaps all of them – for an officer from the GIGN unit present at the scene. The GIGN is an elite tactical unit of the Gendarmerie whose operations include hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, and the protection of top government officials. 3:00PM Isil claims responsibility for France attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) has claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, but gave no evidence for the claim. 2:59PM Police officer who swapped himself for hostage suffered bullet wound Interior Minister Gerard Collomb has confirmed that a gendarme who offered himself in exchange for hostages held in the supermarket was injured. He said that the lieutenant-colonel suffered a bullet wound during the assault in which the hostage taker was shot dead by police. Gendarmes of the French special unit GIGN are seen next to the Trebes supermarket Credit: REGIS DUVIGNAU /Reuters 2:48PM Attacker named as 26-year-old Redouane Lakdim The man who killed at least three people in attacks in southern France was a 26-year old known for petty crimes and possession of drugs, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters, adding that he acted alone. Collomb named the attacker as Redouane Lakdim and said he was from nearby Carcassonne, where the attacks started. “He was known for petty crimes. We had monitored him and thought there was no radicalisation,” Collomb said. 2:35PM Attacker was ‘radicalised petty criminal under surveillance’ The suspect in a supermarket hostage-taking in southern France who killed three people is believed to have acted alone, the French interior minister has said. He described the unnamed attacker as a “radicalised petty criminal under surveillance”. Although he was known to authorities, he was “not considered an Islamist threat”, the minister added. A military helicopter flies over the village of Trebes during the incident Credit: JEAN-PAUL PELISSIER /Reuters 2:30PM Suspect was ‘pleasant young man who… always had a nice word to say’ Police have raided the home in Carcassonne of the man suspected of carrying out the supermarket attack in Trebes, Le Parisien newspaper reported. It said police had also raided the homes of his associates and relatives. One neighbour told the newspaper the suspect was a pleasant young man who was “calm, friendly, and always had a nice word to say.” He reportedly lived in an apartment block with his parents and sisters, and would take the youngest child to school every day. 2:17PM ‘We got him!’ shouts police officer after attacker is shot dead A police officer emerged from the supermarket where the hostage-taker was holed up and shouted: “We got him, we got him!” A journalist from the local La Depeche newspaper described the scene as police moved in to put an end to the incident. They wrote: “I saw a dozen police from the GIGN (an elite police corps specialised in hostage and terror situations) go inside the Super U supermarket. “From the outside you couldn’t hear any shots being fired. Very quickly after this assault ambulances and a helicopter arrived at the car park. “Then security forces sent sniffer dogs into the building. I saw a police officer come out, shouting: ‘We got him, we got him!” French gendarmes block access to Trebes, where a man took hostages Credit: ERIC CABANIS /AFP 2:13PM President Emmanuel Macron: ‘All evidence suggests’ this is terror attack French President Emmanuel Macron said “all evidence suggests” the shootings in southern France are a terrorist attack.  Speaking in Brussels, where he is attending an EU summit, Macron offered his “full support” to everyone involving in the situation. French President Emmanuel Macron speaking on Friday afternoon Credit: Geert Vanden Wijngaert /AP 2:10PM Military officer swapped himself for supermarket hostage Interior Minister Gerard Collomb confirmed that French police killed the gunman who was holed up in the Super U store. It also emerged that a French military officer took the place of a supermarket hostage. The 45-year old lieutenant-colonel swapped himself in exchange of one of the hostages, a source close to the investigation said. 1:50PM Breaking: Police shoot supermarket attacker dead The suspect in the hostage-taking situation has been shot dead by police, a police union official confirmed. 1:30PM Gunman shot motorist in head before stealing car to drive to supermarket Police have found a body in bushes in Carcassonne and another man there who suffered bullet wounds is being treated in hospital, local media reported. The gunman is believed to have shot a motorist in the head – and also injured the passenger – before stealing the car to drive to the Trebes supermarket. Bruno Bartocetti, the regional representative of the SGP police union, said the Carcassonne attacker is believed to the same person who has taken hostages in Trebes. Local media report that the Trebes attacker is a Moroccan man who lived in Carcassonne. 1:19PM Customers escape after hiding in freezer room for an hour One woman who was shopping in the Trebes supermarket when the attacker burst in said she and other customers hid in a freezer room for an hour before managing to escape. “A man started shouting and fired a gun several times,” the shopper, who was not named, told France Info radio. “I saw a door into a freezer room and I told other people around me to come and take refuge there. There were ten of us and we stayed there for an hour. “There were more shots and we eventually got out through an emergency exit at the back.” Another witness said the attacker was armed with a gun, knives and a hand grenade. Armed police outside the supermarket on Friday morning Credit: REUTERS 1:16PM Attack comes after string of atrocities in France The attacker holed up in the supermarket in Trebes has reportedly claimed allegiance to Isil. If that is confirmed, the incident would be the first deadly jihadist attack in France since last October, when two young women were stabbed to death outside the main railway station in Marseille. The incident in Trebes, a picturesque medieval town of around 5,000 inhabitants, come as France is still on high alert after suffering a string of terror attacks since January 2015, when a gun attack by radical Islamists on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo killed 12 people. The deadliest assault came in November the same year, when attackers claiming allegiance to Isil killed 130 people in bombings and shootings at bars, restaurants, the Bataclan concert venue and the national stadium. Paris terror attacks: The 25 images that define the tragedy in France The following July, in another attack claimed by Isil, a man drove a truck through revellers celebrating Bastille Day in the Riviera resort of Nice, killing 84 people. The government put the country under a state of emergency after the Paris attacks. This was was finally lifted in October last year, but soldiers continue to patrol major tourist sites and transport hubs. 1:05PM Car used by man in police shooting found at supermarket – police sources The car of the man who fired at riot police near Carcassonne has been found in the car park of the supermarket where an armed man has holed up after reportedly killing at least one person, AFP has reported citing police sources. This would suggest that – as suspected – the two attacks were carried out by the same man. A damaged vehicle in the spot where police officers were shot at and wounded near the town of Carcassonne Credit: Amenvals Nathalie /PA 12:38PM Police confirm at least two people killed in hostage-taking French police have confirmed that two people have been killed and about a dozen wounded in the supermarket hostage-taking. However, the casualty toll is likely to rise, the regional head of the gendarmes said. “We are unfortunately expecting to find more victims,” he told Sud-Ouest newspaper. A spokesman with the national police service said that it is unclear whether there are still hostages inside the store. The spokesman said a police operation to apprehend the assailant is still under way. 12:12PM Attacker reported to be Moroccan national known to French intelligence services The attacker is a Moroccan national known to France’s intelligence services, according to La Depeche, a regional newspaper. The authorities have so far given no details about the man’s identity. 12:10PM Hostage-taker ‘demanding release of Salah Abdeslam’ A French TV station reports that the hostage-taker has demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the Isil cell that attacked Paris in November 2015 and killed 130 people. He is currently in a prison near Paris awaiting trial for those attacks. Salah Abdeslam Credit: AFP/Getty 12:03PM French PM: We believe this is a terrorist act French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said: “The information which we currently have to hand makes us believe that this is a terrorist act.”  He said he will cut short a visit to the eastern town of Mulhouse and return to Paris to monitor the situation in Trebes and will “remain in constant contact with the president,” Emmanuel Macron, who is in Brussels today for a European Council meeting. Meanwhile, around 50 people who fled the supermarket have taken refuge in a Peugeot garage next to the store.  11:46AM Attacker shouted Allahu Akbar as he burst into store – witness The hostage-taker has killed at least one person inside the supermarket, a police union official said, reports Rory Mulholland. The hostage-taking began at 11am local time when a man burst into the supermarket and fired shots, the local prosecutor’s office said. Local police said they believed one or two people were hit hit by the gunfire. One witness said the attacker had shouted Allahu Akbar as he burst into the store. Police close to the scene of the hostage-taking at a Super U supermarket in Trebes Credit: Sky News 11:34AM Attacker wanted to ‘take revenge for Syria’  The attacker, who is believed to be in his 30s, has one or more grenades and said that he wanted to “take revenge for Syria”, sources told the Dépêche du Midi newspaper. Local media said it was the same man who shot the police officers and then took refuge in the supermarket, but this has not been confirmed. 11:25AM Two confirmed injured in supermarket hostage-taking The Mayor of Trebes has told BFM TV that there are at least two people injured in the supermarket-hostage situation. The scene in Trebes as the attack was under way Credit: Sky News 11:17AM Policeman injured after man opens fire on officers A man opened fire on four French police officers before fleeing the scene in Carcassonne. He is reported to have fired five shots. One police officer was injured after he was shot in the shoulder. He is being treated in hospital.   It has not yet been confirmed if this incident is linked to the hostage-taking in nearby Trebes. 11:15AM Counter-terror investigation launched into hostage-taking Counter-terrorism prosecutors are investigating the incident, a source in Paris said. The Super U supermarket in Trebes. File picture Credit: Google Street View 11:15AM People urged to avoid area around supermarket The French Interior Ministry said on its Twitter account Friday that police and rescue operations were the priority. Authorities in the Aude region are warning people to avoid the area around the supermarket. 

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