A notorious gangster has escaped by helicopter from a prison in the Paris region, the French authorities say.
was helped by several heavily armed men who created a diversion at the prison entrance while the helicopter landed in the courtyard. The helicopter flew to the nearby Gonesse area, where it was found by local police.
Faid, 46, has been serving a 25-year sentence for a failed robbery during which a police officer was killed. This is his second prison break: in 2013, he escaped after seizing four guards as human shields and blowing several doors off with dynamite.
He staged that escape less than half an hour after arriving at a prison in northern France.
In 2009 Faid wrote a book about his experiences of growing up in Paris’s crime-ridden suburbs and graduating into a life of law-breaking.
He claimed to have turned his back on criminality, but a year later was involved in the failed robbery for which he was serving a sentence at the prison in Réau in the Seine-et-Marne region.
Faid and his accomplices escaped from the prison courtyard – which was not protected by a net – without injuring anyone
Gunmen took the prisoner from the visitors’ room before fleeing by air, according to security sources cited by Reuters.
They had earlier taken a helicopter instructor hostage while he was waiting for a student, and ordered him to go to the prison. Reports suggest the pilot has been released and is safe – if shocked.
Faid got out of the helicopter and into a black Renault Megane which was seen heading for the A1 motorway, BFMTV reports.
On Sunday afternoon, police sources told news channel France 3 that he had switched vehicles and was now in a white van. (BBC)