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French prison official freed after being taken hostage by inmate

Jack Guez, AFP | Archival image

The deputy warden of a high-security prison in northern France on Wednesday was released a few hours after being taken hostage by a "dangerous inmate" who was thought to be armed, security sources said.

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Authorities said the prison official was released “safe and sound” after special forces intervened in the Vendin-le-Vieil prison in the Pas-de-Calais region. They did not say if the inmate had surrendered or had been subdued by officers.

The incident started at around 11am local time. Police told the AFP news agency that the deputy warden was being held in a meeting room located in the solitary confinement wing, adding that the inmate was likely armed.

A police tactical team was sent to the site to negotiate the hostage’s release and potentially intervene.

The Vendin-le-Vieil prison, located around 30 kilometres south of the city of Lille, is new and was only finished in September 2014. It has the capacity to house 250 inmates.

According to France's justice ministry, it houses "inmates who have been given long sentences" and as such boasts "highly sophisticated safety features".

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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