Inmate sprung from French prison van during ambush in which 2 guards killed

CNN

PARIS -- At least two gunmen ambushed a prison convoy and broke out an inmate in Normandy on Tuesday, killing two prison guards and wounding three others, according to French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti.

The violent incident, extremely rare for that part of northern France, took place as the vehicle was transporting a prisoner from court to a nearby prison, Dupond-Moretti said.

Video from the scene showed a black SUV in flames that appeared to have crashed into a prison van near a motorway toll booth, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported. Two hooded individuals could be seen carrying what appeared to be long rifles.

Dupond-Moretti told reporters that the incident was the first time a French prison employee had died while working since 1992. He added that one of the guards leaves behind a wife and two children, and the other a spouse who was five months’ pregnant. Dupond-Moretti added that two of those hurt sustained life-threatening injuries.

The gunmen are still at large, national police said on X.

“Everything, and I mean everything, will be done to find the perpetrators of this heinous crime. These are people for whom life means nothing. They will be arrested. They will be tried. And they will be punished for the crime they committed,” Dupond-Moretti said.

A manhunt is underway to find suspects who carried out the prison break and the inmate, a 30-year-old who had been convicted of burglary and is being investigated for a kidnapping related to death, according to the French national prosecutor in charge of organized crime, which has already opened an investigation into the incident. CNN is not naming the inmate at this time.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on X he has mobilized the national gendarmerie and “several hundred” police officers for the manhunt. Authorities on the scene are setting up roadblocks and establishing a perimeter, BFMTV reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on X that “every effort is being made to find the perpetrators of this crime so that justice can be done in the name of the French people.”

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