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French and Belgian police hunt convict after spectacular jailbreak
Police in France and Belgium are hunting a dangerous convicted bank robber who dynamited his way out of a French prison at the weekend. A Europe-wide alert for 40-year-old Redoine Faid is in effect, as is an Interpol bulletin. Faid, who was serving a sentence for robberies and who risked a long sentence over the death of a policewoman in 2010, used explosives to blast his way out of Sequedin prison 15km from the Belgian border. Armed with a pistol, he briefly took four guards hostage for his escape, but all were released unharmed. The first getaway car was found burnt along the motorway, where Faid is believed to have switched to a second vehicle. The jailbreak was reminiscent of a Hollywood movie — the sort of film Faid told an interviewer three years ago he used as an “instruction manual” on how to stage his heists. French police are unsure how Faid acquired the weapon and the explosives. His brother, who visited the prison on the morning of the escape, was detained for questioning all day Sunday but was released when investigators confirmed he had had no contact with Faid. A spokeswoman for the Belgian federal police said roadblocks had not been ordered but that stations and airports were being closely watched. Faid had been in prison since mid-2011 for breaking the terms of his parole over past convictions for bank robberies and heists of cash-in-transit vehicles. He is suspected of being the mastermind of a May 2010 armed robbery that turned into a gunfight in which a young policewoman was killed. Evidence was being gathered to try him and he faces decades in jail if convicted. He was released from a previous term of a decade after convincing parole officials that he regretted his criminal past and was determined to start afresh. He has co-authored two books, about his delinquent youth and rise as a criminal in Paris’s impoverished suburbs. French authorities insist there was no fault on the part of prison workers for Faid’s escape, saying it had been meticulously planned. Faid launched his jailbreak early on Saturday morning while in a visitor’s room. Armed with the firearm and explosives, he took four guards hostage and in about half an hour blasted his way out of the prison, where an accomplice was waiting with a vehicle.