At least two French prison officers reported killed as inmate escapes van | France

Elite French police forces are hunting gunmen who rammed into a prison van, killing at least two prison officers and allowing the inmate they were transporting to escape.

A police source told Agence France-Presse three officers were killed and two others wounded in the attack. Another source close to the case, who also asked not to be named, said two prison officers had been killed and three wounded.

The incident took place late morning at a road toll in Incarville in the Eure region of northern France, another 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,” the president, Emmanuel Macron, wrote on X. “We will be uncompromising,” he added, describing the attack as a “shock”.

The justice minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti, confirmed the attack on the prison convoy and said on X he was immediately heading to a crisis cell at his ministry.

“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 commando team of killers which carried out this bloody attack will be arrested quickly.”

A unit of the GIGN special police force has been dispatched to apprehend the suspects.

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

The interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, wrote on X that 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.

BFMTV, quoting a source close to the investigation, said the 30-year-old inmate had been convicted last week and sentenced to 18 months in prison over robberies in 2019.

It said he had also been charged with murder over a 2022 killing linked to drug trafficking.

A source close to the case, speaking to AFP, identified the inmate as Mohamed A. born in 1994.

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

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

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