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'Radicalised' inmate shot and detained after slashing guards in French prison attack

The raid also left prisoner Michael Chiolo’s visiting partner fatally wounded.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/hrui

A ‘RADICALISED’ INMATE at a prison in France has been shot and injured in a police raid after he seriously wounded two guards in a knife attack, sources told AFP. 

The raid also left his visiting partner fatally wounded. 

Prisoner Michael Chiolo and his female partner were in the family-visiting area of a high-security prison in Normandy when police moved in and detained them, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Twitter.

Chiolo and his partner were shot and wounded in the operation.

“The woman died” of her injuries, a source close to the case said. Chiolo was less seriously wounded in the cheek.

Elite police units moved in some 10 hours after 27-year-old Chiolo wounded the prison guards with a knife.

Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet suggested the knife might have been smuggled into the prison by his partner.

“There is no doubt as to the terrorist nature of this attack,” Belloubet told reporters earlier.

‘Radicalised’

Chiolo, who was serving a 30-year sentence, is thought to have become a “radicalised” Islamist while in prison.

Chiolo was serving his sentence for kidnapping leading to a death, armed robbery and condoning terrorism.

He and an accomplice were sentenced on appeal in 2015 for choking to death an 89-year-old man they had tied up while robbing his home.

He was also sentenced to a year in jail – when already in prison – for asking fellow inmates to “reenact” an attack by Islamic State gunmen on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in November 2015. 

During his rampage this week, he shouted “Allahu Akhbar”, a prison staff representative told AFP.

France has suffered a series of deadly attacks from Islamist extremists since 2015 and is on high alert amid concerns about the return of Islamic State group jihadists from Syria.

The Paris state prosecutor said separately that accounts by witnesses suggested Chiolo “wanted to avenge” Cheriff Chekatt.

Chekatt was shot dead by police after killing five people and wounding 11 at a Christmas market in the eastern French city of Strasbourg in December.

Demands from prison officers

The attack comes as French prison staff, who have been demanding better working conditions, have repeatedly stage weekly protests on Tuesdays. 

In January 2018, prison staff held three weeks of protests after a guard was attacked by a jihadist inmate at a high-security jail in northern France.

Trade unions and experts have continuously warned of the spread of extremism in French prisons. This has to the government to build special facilities to house dangerous individuals who are sometimes held in solitary confinement. 

The Conde-sur-Sarthe prison, where the latest rampage occured, is one of France’s most secure jails. Unlike other facilities, it doesn’t suffer from overcrowding, according to Belloubet.

Despite having been identified as an extremist, Chiolo was not housed in a secure wing for radicalised inmates which was opened in September, she added.

Includes reporting by - © AFP 2019

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