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Manhunt launched in France after 2 prison guards are killed in inmate escape

Manhunt launched in France after 2 prison guards are killed in inmate escape

PARIS — A manhunt has been launched for a group of armed attackers who shot and killed two prison officers and injured three more while breaking a prisoner out of a van in northern France, authorities in the country said Tuesday.

Hundreds of regional and national police officers have been deployed to catch the gang who swooped on the convoy of two vehicles at a toll booth near Rouen, Normandy, at 11 a.m. (5 a.m. ET), Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told a news conference. They were armed with “heavy weapons,” he said.

Dupond-Moretti said the last time anyone died while working in the prison service was in 1992.

The prisoner was named by the prosecutor’s office in Paris as Mohamed Amra, who was born in March 1994. On Friday he was convicted of burglary at a court in Évreux, south of Rouen. He has also been indicted by a court in the southern city Marseilles on kidnapping and false imprisonment resulting in death, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

“The attack was carried out by armed men in several vehicles, who succeeded in neutralizing two officers. The assailants fled with the prisoner,” the Gendarmerie nationale, a police force attached to the French military, told NBC News.

At least 200 officers and a helicopter have been mobilized, the Gendarmerie said. The investigation is being handled by the national jurisdiction against organized crime in Paris.

President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement on X that the attack was “a shock to us all.”

“The nation stands alongside the families, the injured and their colleagues. Everything is being done to find the perpetrators of this crime so that justice can be done in the name of the French people,” he added.

Dupond-Moretti said that the whole country was in mourning. He said one of the dead prison officers had a wife who is five months’ pregnant. The other had two children were about to turn 21, he added.

“Everything, and I mean everything, will be done to find the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” he said. “These are people for whom life means nothing. They will be caught, they will be judged, and they will be punished according to the crime they have committed.”

Shortly after the attack, a video began circulating on social media showing the aftermath of the attack. At least two bodies can be seen on the ground, surrounded by first responders.

Another video, apparently taken before or during the attack, shows two masked people dressed all in black and armed with what appear to be automatic firearms. The same video shows a vehicle on fire after colliding with a white prison service van.

Both videos were verified by NBC News.

Nancy Ing and Elie Petit reported from Paris. Patrick Smith reported from London.

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