Hero police dog Diesel killed in Paris attacks raid to be awarded medal for gallantry

Diesel, the police dog that died during a raid on the suspected Paris attacks mastermind, evoked an outpouring of grief on social media.
Diesel, the police dog that died during a raid on the suspected Paris attacks mastermind, evoked an outpouring of grief on social media.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - A French police dog killed in a security services raid after the Paris attacks is to receive a posthumous medal for gallantry from a British animal charity, it said on Monday.

Diesel died in November during a police raid on an apartment in a northern suburb of Paris, which killed the alleged mastermind of the attacks in which 130 people died.

He had been sent in to a building where lead plotter Abdelhamid Abaaoud.had a flat to sniff out booby traps but was blown to pieces when a woman came out firing her AK-47 at police and then detonated her suicide vest, according to Britain's Mail Online. 

His death almost certainly saving the life of a human member of his elite police unit, the paper said. 

The Daily Mail reported Diesel's handler, who cannot be named for security reasons, saying: "His role was to open the way for the rest of us. He uses all his senses to detect if anyone is present and if he can get to them, to go and bite them. If not, he stands and barks to indicate where the person is hiding.

"I had absolute confidence in him, and him in me. Both of us knew how the other would behave in the situation.'

According to the Mail, one police handler said it was "a little like losing one of our colleagues", while a Twitter user said Diesel had "died to defend our colours".

Russia later donated a new puppy named Dobrynia to France in Diesel's memory to carry on his work.

Diesel's death led to the hashtag #JeSuisChien (I Am A Dog) trending on Twitter.

The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) said the seven-year-old Belgian Shepherd would receive the Dickin Medal, described as its "supreme honour for gallantry".

The medal was introduced in 1943. Previous recipients include pigeons which carried messages behind the front lines in World War II and military dogs which sniffed out Taleban bombs in Afghanistan.

The PDSA's director general, Jan McLoughlin, said: "As guardians of the world's most prestigious animal awards programme, we were inundated by messages from members of the public to recognise (Diesel's) heroism.

"The PDSA Dickin Medal recognises conspicuous devotion to duty in the theatre of conflict and Diesel is a truly deserving recipient."

A formal ceremony marking the honour will take place next year.