The French justice minister has alleged the female partner of an Islamist prisoner smuggled in a ceramic knife for a terror attack. Two guards were stabbed. The prisoner's partner was reportedly shot and later died.
A radicalized prisoner allegedly stabbed two guards in France on Tuesday, in an apparent Islamist attack.
After attacking the officers, he and his female partner barricaded themselves in the family visiting area of the high-security prison at Conde-sur-Sarthe in Normandy for 10 hours.
His partner was shot in the ensuing police raid and died of her injuries, according to unnamed sources close to the case quoted by news agencies AFP and Reuters. The prisoner was wounded and taken into custody once again.
French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet suggested the 27-year-old prisoner's partner had smuggled in the ceramic knife used in the initial attack.
"There is no doubt as to the terrorist nature of this attack," Belloubet told reporters.
Stabbed in chest and face
Prison staff representative Alassanne Sall and anti-terrorist prosecutor Remy Heitz both said the suspect had shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) during his attack.
"It was truly a murder attempt. There was blood everywhere. The family-visiting unit was a battle scene," Sall told AFP news agency.
He said one of the guards suffered a serious chest wound, while the second was slashed on the face and back, he added.
Heitz said the suspect was wearing a fake explosives belt at the time.
Radicalization behind bars
The prisoner was incarcerated on a 30-year sentence and some reports indicate he is thought to have become radicalized while in jail.
The Paris state prosecutor said witness accounts suggested he "wanted to avenge" Cheriff Chekatt, who was shot dead after an attack on a Strasbourg Christmas market last year.
The prisoner was originally jailed, along with an accomplice, for choking to death an 89-year-old man they had tied up while robbing his home. He was given further jail time for asking fellow inmates to "re-enact" the Bataclan attack by "Islamic State" gunmen.
Radical Islamist ideas have been able to flourish in French prisons, with most terror attackers having already spent time incarcerated, while radicalized inmates have repeatedly attacked guards.
aw/se (AFP, dpa, Reuters)