A suspected drug boss nicknamed “The Fly” is at the centre of police manhunt after escaping from a prison van in France.

Two prison officers were killed and three others seriously wounded when a convoy transporting prisoner Mohamed Amra from court to jail was ambushed near Rouen in Normandy by gunmen wearing balaclavas.

Mohamed Amra

Several hundred police officers have been deployed nationwide to find the 30-year-old convict and gunmen. It is unclear how many assailants were involved.

Footage captured a black car driving into the front of a white van, with other video showing two armed men patrolling near a tollbooth on the A154 motorway.

A day of blockades has been announced in jails across France today as prison officer unions respond in anger to Tuesday’s attack.

A minute’s silence is also planned across the French criminal justice system including prisons and courtrooms.

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Police sources said Amra was involved in international drug dealing, a suspect in a kidnap and murder case in Marseille, and had ties to the city’s powerful “Blacks” gang.

He had recently been sentenced to 18 months for burglary in the suburbs of Evreux, northwest France, reported BFM TV.

The French broadcaster said his nickname was La Mouche – or “The Fly” in English.

A prison source told Le Parisien that Amra tried to saw the bars off his cell a few days ago – with the convict reportedly put in solitary confinement afterwards.

The publication said he was also re-evaluated as ‘Escort 3’ risk category, making more guards necessary during transportation.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said two of the injured officers were in a critical condition.

“Absolutely everything will be done to find the perpetrators of this despicable crime,” he told BFM TV.

“These are people for whom life means nothing. They will be arrested, judged and punished according to the crime they committed.”