soldiers and chopper
© AFP / Jean-Francois Monier
French soldiers stand next to a chopper in front of the penitentiary center of Alencon, in Conde-sur-Sarthe, northwestern France late on June 11, 2019.
Two people have been taken hostage at a high-security prison in Conde-sur-Sarthe in the Orne region of north-western France, according to local media.

One inmate took a guard and a trainee guard - said to be male and female - hostage at the facility during the evening meal time between 18:30-19:00 GMT, according to Le Figaro. The prisoner is reportedly armed with an improvised knife.

Media reports said the French Ministry of Justice has responded to the incident and activated a crisis unit.

Footage from the scene shows heavily armed police officers, as well as military servicemen - who apparently arrived by helicopters - amassing in front of the correctional facility. The police officers apparently belong to the elite RAID unit - a special tactical force, analogous to SWAT.


BFMTV reported that the prisoner had carried out hostage-takings before and this was the reason why he was moved to the Conde-sur-Sarthe prison.

Sources told Le Figaro that the inmate was 35-year-old Francis Dorffer, who was branded a "serial hostage taker" by French media in 2017. Dorffer was incarcerated back in 2000 - when he was just 16 - and he never got out due to all the misconduct behind bars. The crimes, committed by the man while in jail, include a murder of his cellmate, as well as taking prison guards hostage several times.


It is also not the the first crisis at the prison. In March, a radicalized prisoner at the facility brutally assaulted two guards, sparking an hours-long standoff with police. In that incident, the wife of the prisoner, who was visiting at the time, was killed when elite police forces launched an assault after failed negotiations.

According to BFMTV's report, negotiations are underway and the hostage-taker is demanding to be transferred to another location.