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'Radicalised' prisoner held after French prison attack

Jean-Francois Monier, AFP | A soldier stands beside an army helicopter in front of the Penitentiary center of Alencon, in Conde-sur-Sarthe, western France, on March 5, 2019

A prison inmate in northwestern France who on Tuesday seriously wounded two guards in a knife attack described as a terrorist incident was later detained in a police raid, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

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The detainee's wife, who had been visiting him at the time and who was holed up with him in the family-visiting area of the high-security prison at Conde-sur-Sarthe, in Normandy, was shot dead during the raid. Police sources said she took part in the initial attack against guards.

The 27-year-old inmate, considered a "radicalised" Islamist, attacked prison staff while shouting "Allahu Akhbar" (God is Greatest), prison staff representative Alassanne Sall told AFP.

He then retreated into a room with his wife who was visiting him at the high-security facility in Conde-sur-Sarthe in Normandy, the justice ministry said in a statement.

"It was truly a murder attempt. There was blood everywhere. The family-visiting unit was a battle scene," said Sall, from the Force Ouvriere trade union.

One of the guards suffered a serious chest wound, while the second was slashed on the face and back, he added.

The attack took place in the family unit where the prisoner, who is serving a 30-year sentence for a kidnapping leading to a death, armed robbery and condoning terrorism, was being visited by his wife.

France has suffered a series of attacks from Islamic extremists since 2015 and is on high alert amid concerns about the return of Islamic State jihadists from Syria.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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