Inmate takes guard, trainee hostage in high-security French prison

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Both hostages were freed following a standoff in high security prison in France on Wednesday, French AFP news agency reported officials as saying.

The crisis started when one of the inmates in the Conde-sur-Sarthe facility took a guard and a female trainee hostage during meal time on Tuesday. He apparently used a home-made, improvised weapon.

The Tuesday incident reportedly marks the fourth time that this particular prisoner has taken guards hostage, Emmanuel Guimaraes of the Workers Force union told Ouest-France newspaper. The alleged perpetrator has built a reputation as "professor of hostage taking" and has so far always demanded a transfer to a different prison.

Talking to BFMTV broadcaster, Frederic Eko of the SNEPAP prison personnel union said the inmate had been watched for potential Islamist radicalization.

Separately, a justice ministry source told AFP the inmate had a history of psychiatric problems. He had allegedly been convicted of robbery, rape and of the murder of a prison cellmate.

'Safe and sound'

Special police units were deployed to the prison in three helicopters, and the wing the prisoner and the hostages were in was evacuated.

Later, the AFP agency reported that the male prison guard had been freed first, followed by the female trainee. Both of them are "safe and sound" the national Prison Administration Directorate said. The prisoner has surrendered.

The authorities did not immediately say how the conflict was resolved.

Conde-sur-Sarthe is a prison housing dangerous or radicalized prisoners and inmates with behavioral problems. Earlier this year, a detainee allegedly stabbed two guards while his partner was visiting. He was subsequently wounded himself and the woman died after security units launched an assault.

dj/se (AFP, AP)

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