France: Hostage situation at high-security prison ends

A Conde-sur-Sarthe inmate, who had taken two guards hostage and injured one of them, surrendered after negotiations with authorities, France's justice minister said.

An inmate at the high-security Conde-sur-Sarthe jail in northwestern France surrendered after taking two guards hostage on Tuesday, the justice minister said.

“The hostage-taking is over. The inmate surrendered,” French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said on Twitter.

What happened?

The incident began at 10:15 a.m. local time (1215 UTC), when an inmate attacked two guards, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

At least one officer was injured in the eye, the ministry said.

Authorities mobilized security units at the jail and dispatched extra forces to the facility, about 250 km (155 miles) west of Paris.

French broadcaster BFMTV had reported that the two officers held were a man and a woman. The female guard was freed after several hours, according to BFMTV.

The second guard was released after negotiations with ERIS, the specialist regional units charged with intervening during security incidents at penitentiary facilities, according to Dupond-Moretti.

What do we know about the attacker?

The suspected attacker was a prisoner serving a life sentence, local newspaper Ouest France reported in its online edition. According to the paper, he had been admitted to the facility less than a month ago.

BFMTV said the man had been convicted of rape and murder.

The prison in Conde-sur-Sarthe has a reputation for housing dangerous or radicalized prisoners.

A similar incident took place in the same prison in 2019, when an inmate held a guard hostage and a trainee for hours before security teams rescued them.

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