Manhunt in France After 'the Fly' Escapes

2 prison officers were killed in ambush
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2024 2:47 PM CDT

A massive manhunt is underway in France for a drug dealer known as "the Fly" and the gunmen who freed him in a deadly ambush at a highway toll booth. Two prison guards were killed and two others were critically injured when the prison van was ambushed in Normandy Tuesday morning, the BBC reports. The inmate, whose real name is Mohamed Amra, was being transported between the towns of Rouen and Evreux after a court hearing. Authorities say Amra was serving an 18-month sentence for theft and faced new charges connected to a kidnapping and a drug-related murder in Marseille.

Amra was being taken back to a prison facility after a hearing related to the new charges. Police sources told AFP the attackers arrived in two vehicles and rammed the prison van before attacking officers with "heavy weapons." Eric Dupond-Moretti, France's justice minister, said the two men killed in the attack were the first prison officers killed in the line of duty since 1992. He said one of them was married with two children and the other "left a wife five months pregnant."

"All means are being used to find these criminals. On my instructions, several hundred police officers and gendarmes were mobilized," Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said, per the AP. Amra's lawyer, Hugues Vigier, told French news channel BFMTV that he was "utterly shocked" by the escape and the "unimaginable" violence. "I would like to believe that he didn't know about the plan to free him. That would not change the tragedy that took place but as his lawyer I want to believe he didn't plan this escape," he said, per the BBC. (More France stories.)

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