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French Prisoners Surrender

May 29, 2001

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PARIS (AP) _ Two French inmates freed two prison guards and surrendered Monday, a day after they seized the hostages when an attempt to break out of prison using a helicopter failed.

Mounir Ben Bouabdallah _ shot in the arm during the incident _ freed the guards and turned himself in, police said. Hours later, Christophe Khider surrendered, police said. Khider is a former gang member serving a 30-year-term for a bank robbery in which a hostage was killed.

Both were immediately transferred out of the high-security Fresnes prison south of Paris to other prisons.

The pair took three guards hostage Sunday afternoon after the helicopter dropped weapons into the exercise yard. But the attempted airlift of prisoners failed and gunfire broke out.

A security guard, Nicolas Tassin, was critically injured by the gunfire and underwent a throat operation early Monday, the public hospital administration said.

Spectacular prison escape attempts aren’t uncommon in France. Over the past 10 years, there have been 10 successful escapes by helicopter.

The two prisoners, one considered very dangerous, were equipped with a bulletproof vest, an automatic pistol and a Kalashnikov, officials said.

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