Versailles, France – In a somber ceremony, France paid homage on Friday to two police officials knifed to death this week in their home by a man claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group.
President Francois Hollande said during the ceremony at the prefecture of Versailles, the region where the couple lived and worked, that measures would be taken to ensure anonymity for police, who have been shaken by the killings and now feel threatened out of uniform. He did not elaborate on the measures.
Hollande, addressing hundreds of officers and others at the ceremony, praised the pair as “two heroes of daily life” and said that off-duty police may now carry arms, a demand that has grown since France became a target of terror in two waves of attacks last year, claimed by the Islamic State group.
The nation has been in a state of emergency since the November Paris attacks that killed 130.
Commander Jean-Baptise Salvaing and his companion, Jessica Schneider, were knifed to death Monday night at their home in Magnanville, not far from the Mureaux police station where Salvaign worked or the station in Mante-la-Jolie where the attacker lived. Their 3-year-old son was in the room where his mother was killed.
Larossi Abballa, convicted in 2013 of a role in a jihadi network for the Pakistan-Afghan border, was killed by a police intervention unit which had surrounded the home and tried in vain to negotiate.
“France will continue its implacable fight against terrorism with even more determination in memory of their sacrifice,” Hollande said.
Drumrolls sounded as police in dress uniform bore the coffins through the prefecture courtyard at the start of the ceremony.
Hollande posthumously made Salvaing and Schneider, a police administrator, knights of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor.
He denounced insults often heaped on police, calling officers “sentinels of the Republic.”