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Hundreds of police officers hunt for France’s prison-break gang

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Hundreds of police officers are hunting for France’s “public enemies number one” as escaped inmate ‘The Fly’ remains after a bloody attack on his prison van convoy left two guards dead.

Mohamed Amra, 30, was being transported from a court hearing in Rouen to a secure jail in Evreux when his prison van was ambushed by four gunmen shortly after 11am local time on Tuesday.

The assailants, armed with sub-machine guns, killed two prison officers, seriously injured three others and sprung Amra, the convict the guards were escorting, on the A154 motorway in Val-de-Reuil in Normandy, before the five fled in two cars that were later found abandoned and burned.

Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin told broadcaster France 2 that 350 investigators had been mobilized to search for the perpetrators of Tuesday’s attack and the convict they freed, adding that the police were “making very good progress.” “They are public enemy number one,” Mr Darmanin said. He previously described the search as “unprecedented” when speaking on RTL radio.

Expressing hope that Amra could be caught “in the coming days”, he added: “The means employed are considerable. We are progressing a lot.”

Suspected drug boss Mohamed Amra, 30, remains at large (Sourced)

Interpol on Wednesday said it issued an international arrest warrant, a ‘Red Notice’, for the fugitive, nicknamed ‘La Mouche’ or ‘The Fly’, at the request of French authorities.

Vowing the gang will be caught, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said in parliament later that day, 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 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 34-year-old whose wife is five months pregnant, both from Caen, were “slaughtered like dogs by men for whom life means nothing”.

The moment the car rammed into the police van carrying the ‘Fly’ (BBC)

“I haven’t closed my eyes all night. I cried so much that I have no more tears left in my body,” the father of 34-year-old slain officer Arnaud Garcia, Dominique Garcia, told BFM-TV.

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.

abrice Moello (left) and Arnaud Garcia, who were killed in the attack on Tuesday (Supplied)

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.

Forensic teams at the scene of the ambush that took place at Incarville tollbooth on Tuesday morning (AFP via Getty Images)

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

Police sources alleged that 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.

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