International arrest warrant issued in manhunt for escaped French inmate ‘The Fly’

An international arrest warrant has been issued as the manhunt for escaped inmate ‘The Fly’ continues, with France’s prime minister vowing the fugitive “will pay”. Interpol issued a Red Notice for Mohamed Amra at the request of the French authorities.

The suspected drugs boss, nicknamed ‘La Mouche’, was being transported from a court hearing in Rouen to a secure jail in Evreux on Tuesday when his prison van was ambushed by four armed attackers.

The assailants killed two prison officers in machine gun fire, seriously injured three others and sprung Amra shortly after 11am local time on the A154 motorway in Val-de-Reuil in Normandy.

French justice minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said guards Fabrice Moello, a 52-year-old father of two who had worked in the prison service for nearly 30 years, and Arnaud Garcia, a 35-year-old whose wife is five months pregnant, both from Caen, were “slaughtered like dogs by men for whom life means nothing”.

Vowing the gang will be caught, prime minister Gabriel Attal said in parliament, to applause from lawmakers: “We are tracking you, we will find you and we will punish you. They will pay for what they have done.”

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said “unprecedented” efforts were being deployed, with 450 mobilised in the region of the attack. Speaking on RTL radio on Wednesday, he expressed hope that Amra could be caught “in the coming days”. “The means employed are considerable,” he added. “We are progressing a lot.”

The attack appeared to have been carefully prepared. The prison van and another prison escort vehicle had just gone through a toll booth on the freeway when the van was rammed head-on by a car.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said the car had been stolen and had gone through the toll booth a few minutes ahead of the prison convoy and then waited there.

Another car followed behind the convoy, seemingly boxing it in. Assailants sprang from the cars and opened fire, spraying the prison vehicles. The assailants and Amra then fled in two cars that were subsequently found burned, which investigators are examining.

Surveillance cameras captured the chilling executions, which included automatic weapons firing more than 30 rounds. The violence of the attack shocked France. Prison workers held moments of silence on Wednesday outside prisons in Paris and elsewhere to commemorate the officers who were killed.

Amra, who was born in the northern French city of Rouen, has a formidable rap sheet, with 13 convictions for robbery and other crimes, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau said, the first of which came when he was just 15.

While his criminal record does not mention any conviction for drug violations, police sources said Amra was a mid-level player in France’s drug trade, with links to Marseille’s powerful “Blacks” gang.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said he had been indicted by prosecutors in Marseille, the epicentre of France’s drug trade, for gangland murder. The Interpol Red Notice said he was suspected of the “acquisition, detention, transportation, offering or disposal of narcotics”.

Amra was convicted of burglary by a court in Evreux on 10 May and was being held at the Val de Reuil prison. A few days before his escape, he had tried to saw his way out of his cell, officials said.

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