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Gunmen free inmate in deadly attack on French prison van

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Gunmen on Tuesday attacked a prison van at a motorway toll in northern France, killing at least two prison officers and freeing a convict who had been jailed last week.

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President Emmanuel Macron vowed that everything would be done to find those behind the attack as hundreds of members of the security forces were deployed for a manhunt to find the attackers and the inmate who were all still at large.

Two prison officers were killed in the attack and two others are receiving urgent medical care, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau said in a statement.

The incident took place late morning at a road toll in Incarville in the Eure region of northern France, a source close to the case added.

The inmate was being transported between the towns of Rouen and Evreux in Normandy.

A police source said several individuals, who arrived in two vehicles, rammed the police van and then fled.

One of them was wounded, the police source said.

It was not immediately clear how many attackers there were in total.

“Everything is being done to find the perpetrators of this crime,” Macron wrote on X.

“We will be uncompromising,” he added, describing the attack as a “shock”.      


‘All means used’

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti immediately headed to a crisis cell at his ministry.

“These are people for whom life counts for nothing. They will be arrested, they will be judged and they will be punished according to the crime they committed,” he said.

Both the officers killed were men and they were the first prison officers to be killed in the line of duty since 1992, he added.

One of them was married and had two children while the other “left a wife five months pregnant”, he said.

“I am frozen with horror at the veritable carnage that took place at the Incarville toll,” said Alexandre Rassaert, the head of the Eure region council.

“I hope with all my heart that that the team of killers which carried out this bloody attack will be arrested quickly.”

A unit of the GIGN elite police force has been despatched to apprehend the suspects.

Traffic was stopped on the A154 motorway where the incident took place.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin wrote on X he had ordered the activation of France’s Epervier plan, a special operation launched by the gendarmerie in such situations.

“All means are being used to find these criminals. On my instructions, several hundred police officers and gendarmes were mobilised,” he said.

Prosecutor Beccuau named the inmate as Mohamed Amra, born in 1994, saying that last week he had been convicted of aggravated robbery and also charged in a case of abduction leading to death.

The case has been handed to prosecutors from France’s office for the fight against organised crime known by their acronym JUNALCO.

Law and order is a major issue in French politics ahead of next month’s European elections and the incident sparked fierce reactions from politicians, especially the far right.

“It is real savagery that hits France every day,” said Jordan Bardella, the top candidate for the far-right National Rally (RN) which is leading opinion polls for the elections.

(AFP)

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