In Brief

Islamist inmate’s pregnant partner shot dead following prison stabbing

Woman killed during stand-off with police after knife attack on two guards

A pregnant woman was shot dead by police yesterday after allegedly helping her radicalised prison inmate partner stab two officers while visiting him in a French jail. 

Prisoner Michael Chiolo, 27, and the unnamed woman had barricaded themselves in a visiting room at the Conde-sur-Sarthe high-security prison in Normandy after the knife attack - described by the French government as an act of terrorism, reports Reuters. Chiolo also claimed to be wearing and threatened to detonate an explosive belt, although this was later found to be fake.  

Following a ten-hour stand-off, police stormed the room and shot Chiolo’s partner after she threw herself at one of the officers, according to French newspaper Le Monde.

Prison staff representative Alassanne Sall said: “There was blood everywhere. The family-visiting unit was a battle scene.”

The ceramic knife used to stab the prison officers is believed to have been smuggled in by the shot woman. Both of the stabbed wardens are in a stable condition after being hospitalised, one with a wound to the chest, and the other with injuries to his face and back, officials said.

Chiolo is alleged to have shouted “Allahu akhbar” [God is Greatest] during the attack, Le Monde reports. 

Paris state prosecutor prosecutor Remy Heitz told reporters that witnesses said Chiolo had also yelled the name of Islamist terrorist Cherif Chekatt, the man who attacked a Christmas market in Strasbourg last year, killing five people. Chiolo is believed to have wanted to avenge Chekatt, who was shot dead by police.

Chiolo is serving a 30-year sentence for armed robbery, kidnapping and murder, and is reported to have been radicalised in prison.

“French prisons have been fertile breeding grounds for the spreading of radical Islamist ideas,” says Reuters. “Most of those responsible for a series of attacks that have hit the country in recent years had spent time in jail before striking, and radicalised inmates have repeatedly attacked guards.”

Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said Chiolo had been put on a security watch list over his suspected Islamist sympathies.

An investigation has been launched to determine if and how his partner got the knife into the prison, Belloubet added.

Chiolo’s lawyer, Pauline Brion, said he had met his partner while in prison and that he intended to marry her, reports France 24

“He had written to someone after converting [to Islam] for them to find him a wife,” Brion said.

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