A radicalised Islamist inmate screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ stabbed two guards in a ‘terror incident’ during a conjugal visit by his wife at a French prison.
Michael Chiolo, 27, slashed one across the face and back and gave the other a serious chest wound causing blood to be sprayed across the family unit at the complex in Conde-sur-Sarthe in Normandy.
He has retreated into a room used for private visits with his wife who is said to have smuggled in a ceramic knife used in the assault.
He has declared he will not surrender.
An army helicopter was scrambled to the high-security complex in Conde-sur-Sarthe in Normandy
An army soldier wearing a balaclava walks back to his helicopter after French justices declared the attack a terrorist incident
An emergency medical helicopter lands near the the Penitentiary center of Alencon
Police take up positions on the perimeter as Chiolo remains inside a family room with his wife
An army helicopter was scrambled to the scene and sniffer dogs have been deployed over fears of explosives.
Local media are reporting that a raid on the room where he has sequestered himself could be imminent.
Prison staff representative Alassanne Sall confirmed he was believed to be ‘radicalised’ and had shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) during the assault.
‘It was truly a murder attempt. There was blood everywhere. The family-visiting unit was a battle scene,’ said Sall, from the Force Ouvriere trade union.
French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said the inmate’s wife ‘feigned illness’ at around 9.45am, leading to two prison officers arriving in a room in the family unit, which is designed to give couples privacy during visiting hours.
It is then that the inmate slashed out with his knife, wounding one man in the chest, and the other in the back and face. Both have since been treated, and neither is in a life-threatening condition.
The wife is thought to have smuggled a ceramic knife into the prison, and there were also fears that explosives may also have been made available to her husband.
At 3.30pm, a prison source said: ‘The couple are still locked inside the family unit, and sniffer dogs are being used to try and sniff out any explosives close to them. The attacker says he now has an explosive belt on him.
A sniffer dog can be seen outside the entrance to the prison – as there are fears his wife may have smuggled more than just a knife
An army helicopter landed on the turf outside the prison after the inmate’s shocking outburst on Tuesday morning
Judicial policemen arrive at the Penitentiary center of Alencon, in Conde-sur-Sarthe
A fire engine arrives at the prison as precautions are taken for every eventuality as the ‘psychopath’ remains holed up
‘RAID anti-terrorist police are on the scene, along with soldiers, and all are trying to bring the situation under control.
‘It appears it was too easy for the wife to smuggle a ceramic knife through metal detectors. If there are explosives, they would not have got into the prison in the same way.’
But despite his criminal convictions, the prisoner had not been integrated into the deradicalisation program at the prison, Ouest France reported.
Chiolo was jailed in 2014 for kidnapping, torturing and finally killing an 89-year-old Jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camps.
Chiolo and two other men ended the life of Roger Tarall during a burglary at Montigny-les-Metz, close to the German border in eastern France, in April 2012.
Roger Tarall had been arrested by the Gestapo and deported to Dachau during the Second World War, but survived the notorious camp near Munich.
‘Mr Tarall was threatened with a shotgun and then tied up with wires and blankets,’ said a source close to the 2012 case. ‘He died from asphyxiation.’
The source added: ‘Chiolo was caught soon afterwards after boasting about the murder to a girlfriend.’
During an appeal hearing a judge called him a ‘psychopath’, and soon afterwards he was given another year in prison for asking his fellow inmates in Mulhouse to ‘recreate the Bataclan attack.’
This was a reference to the November 2015 attack on the Bataclan music venue in Paris, when 89 people were murdered in cold blood by gunman affiliated to Islamic State.
Police in protective vests scan a car park outside the prison where Chiolo has caused chaos at one of France’s most secure units
A sniffer dog is held on a leash at the gate to the prison to detect any insidious contraband which could be lurking
Policemen and prison guards at the entrance to the complex where the inmate is hiding in a room in the family unit
This file photo shows a prison guard at the jail closing a door within the high-security complex where the inmate was serving a 30-year jail sentence
Chiolo’s wife is pregnant – meaning she is unlikely to have been searched as rigorously as other inmates. It is believed that she assisted in the attack on the two prison supervisors.
French prison officials have often complained about the ease with which visitors get ceramic knives through metal detectors.
Police reinforcements have been rushed to the prison, the justice ministry said.
Specialised anti-terror magistrates in Paris said they were investigating the case, meaning it was being treated as a terror incident.
France has suffered a series of attacks from Islamic extremists since 2015 and is on high alert amid concerns about the return of Islamic State jihadists from Syria.