What we know about France’s ‘The Fly’ and his deadly prison van escape

A massive manhunt was under way in France on Wednesday and an Interpol red notice was issued a day after a group of gunmen ambushed a prison van at a motorway toll and freed a notorious gangster known as “The Fly”. Two prison officers were killed in the spectacular escape and three more were wounded. Here's what we know so far.

The brazen attack took place near Incarville in the Eure department in Normandy at 10:57am on Tuesday, May 14, as police were transporting a detainee between jail and a hearing.

Footage from surveillance cameras, obtained by several French media, shows the prison van slowing down to pass through a motorway toll when a black Peugeot SUV – reported as stolen a few days earlier – suddenly crashes into the vehicle head-on, blocking its passage. Several black-clad men wearing balaclavas and equipped with military-grade weapons step out of the passenger car and open fire on the van. They are then joined by a second crew who step out of a nearby Audi. The attackers ultimately manage to free the prisoner, identified by prosecutors as 30-year-old Mohamed Amra, aka "The Fly".

The whole operation is estimated to have taken around two minutes.

Frédéric Liakhoff, secretary of the prison officer union FO-Justice at the penitentiary centre in the city of Caen, told the AFP news agency that the prison guards accompanying Amra were armed with “simple Sig Sauer [handguns] while they faced weapons of war”.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and Reuters)

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