A robber with links to organised crime blasted his way out of jail with explosives yesterday as he took prison wardens hostage in northern France, officials said.
Police and helicopters were trying to track the man, identified by state prosecutor Frederic Fevre as Redoine Faid, a notorious criminal known for robbing cash-in-transit vehicles.
Fevre said Faid, a "particularly dangerous prisoner", was armed and still had explosives.
Faid used the explosives to blast through five prison doors before making his way out of the jail in the town of Sequedin.
The state prosecutor said Faid had four hostages with him during the jailbreak. One was freed just outside the prison, another was released a few hundred metres away and the final two were left along a highway. They were all shocked but unharmed.
Faid later set on fire his getaway car, abandoning it south of the city of Lille, and got into a second vehicle.
Prison unionist Etiene Dobremetz said Faid was visited by his wife early yesterday and it is believed she gave him the explosives hidden in small tissues.
Faid said his life of crime was inspired by American films such as Scarface and Heat - in which actor Robert de Niro carries out an armoured car heist.