A huge manhunt is underway for the escaped prisoner known as “The Fly” after officers were killed in an attack on a prison van in France

A massive manhunt was underway in France on Wednesday for armed attackers who ambushed a prison convoy. killing two prison guards, seriously injuring three others and causing the prisoner they were escorting to flee. The Prime Minister promised the gang would be caught, saying: “They will pay.”

“We will follow you, we will find you and we will punish you,” Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said in parliament, to applause from lawmakers. “They will pay for what they did.”

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said “unprecedented” efforts were being made. Hundreds of officers were mobilized in the search for the escaped convict, Mohamed Amra, and the assailants who lay in wait for the prison van he was being transported in. They rammed a car into it before opening fire on Tuesday.

The global police organization Interpol said yes on Wednesday issued a red warning at the request of France for the arrest of 30-year-old Amra.

Armed men in balaclavas ambush a prison van to free a drug dealer in Val-de-Reuil
A screen capture from a CCTV video shows a person taking aim as armed men wearing balaclavas ambush a prison van to free a drug dealer in Val-de-Reuil, France, on May 14, 2024.

Presented via REUTERS


“At the request of French authorities, a red alert has been issued for escaped prisoner Mohamed Amra, alias 'The Fly',” Interpol said. A red notice is a request to law enforcement agencies worldwide to locate and arrest a wanted individual.

The message stated that Amra is about 6 feet tall, has wavy brown hair, dark brown eyes and a beard.

The violence of the attack shocked France. Prison staff held moments of silence outside prisons in Paris and elsewhere on Wednesday to remember the slain officers.

Darmanin expressed the hope on RTL radio on Wednesday that Amra could be arrested 'in the coming days'. Without giving full details of the extent of the manhunt, he said 450 officers had been deployed to the region of the Normandy attack in northern France to search for the attackers and clues to their whereabouts.

“The resources being deployed are significant,” he said. “We are making a lot of progress.”

The attack seemed carefully prepared. The convoy was transporting Amra back to prison in the Normandy town of Évreux after a hearing with an investigator in Rouen when it was ambushed on the A154 highway.

The prison van and another escort vehicle had just passed through a highway toll booth when the van was rammed head-on by a car. The Paris prosecutor's office said the car had been stolen and driven through the toll booth a few minutes before the prison convoy and then waited there.

Another car followed the convoy and appeared to close in on it. Attackers jumped from the cars and opened fire, spraying the prison vehicles, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau said.

The attackers and Amra then fled. Two burned cars were subsequently found that investigators are examining, Beccuau said.

One of the officers killed was a 52-year-old captain at the prison, where he had worked for nearly 30 years, and a father of two, Beccuau said. The other slain officer, 34 years old, was an expectant married father, she said.

Amra, 30, has a long criminal record, with at least 13 convictions for theft and other crimes, the first when he was just 15, she said.

Escaped convict has a history of violent crimes

According to judicial sources, Amra has a long history of convictions for violent crimes that started when he was just 15.

The 30-year-old prisoner from Rouen in northwestern France, reportedly known as 'La Mouche' (The Fly), was still on the run on Wednesday, a day after alleged accomplices killed two prison guards at a toll plaza and left the scene escape with him.

Undated mugshot of 30-year-old French prisoner Mohamed Amra, also known as “The Fly”, who was released by accomplices in a deadly French attack on a prison van on May 14, 2024, which killed two guards and injured three .

Presented via REUTERS


Three other prison guards were injured in the attack, with one fighting for his life.

“He is very well known in the judiciary,” Paris' chief prosecutor Laure Beccuau told reporters.

Amra has close ties to organized crime, said another source close to the case who asked not to be identified, and is suspected of ordering killings linked to drug trafficking.

Another source who asked not to be named said Amra runs his own drug trafficking network.

However, none of his 13 previous convictions – for crimes ranging from armed robbery to extortion – were directly related to narcotics trafficking, said Beccuau, who is leading the investigation into the highway attack.

He was jailed in Evreux prison in the northwestern region of Normandy in January 2022 to serve several sentences, including for criminal conspiracy, extortion, theft, armed violence and participation in an illegal motorcycle rodeo.

The last conviction, for theft, was only handed down last week.

At the time of his escape, he also faced two new charges, one for attempted murder and one for participating in a killing spree in a gang area in the southern French Riviera city of Marseille, a center for drug trafficking and gang violence.

AFP contributed to this report.

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