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Three French prison guards hurt in attack by Al-Qaeda inmate

Three guards at a jail in Vendin-le-Vieil have been injured in a blade attack St├ęphane de Sakutin/AFP

Three guards at a jail in northern France have been injured in a blade attack by a German Al-Qaeda militant who plotted the deadly suicide bombing of a Tunisian synagogue in 2002.

51 year-old Christian Ganczarski, serving an 18-year sentence over the 2002 blast in Djerba that killed 21 people, launched himself at prison officers after hearing he may face extradition to the US in connection with 9/11 investigations, according to prison staff union sources.

Prison authorities did not confirm or deny the identity of the assailant, but said they were investigating an assault with a razor blade and chisel as a terrorist plot to kill officials.

Regional director of prison services Alain Jego confirmed to the AFP news agency that "an inmate, who is finishing a long sentence and who risks being extradited to the United States, assaulted three agents with a blade" at the jail in Vendin-le-Vieil, near the northern town of Lens.

Four officers tried to control the prisoner and three were slightly injured, Jego added.

Islamic convert Ganczarski, who visited Afghan and Pakistani training camps and is believed to have been linked to Osama bin Laden, was found guilty in 2009 of helping to plan the Tunisia attack, which was claimed by Al-Qaeda.

In the suicide bombing, a fuel tanker rigged with explosives was detonated in front of the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba, killing 14 German tourists, five Tunisians and two French nationals.

Ganczarski put his expertise in radio and Internet communications at the service of Al-Qaeda and helped recruit members in Europe, according to investigators.

He was charged along with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is said to have been be Al-Qaeda's "military commander" and responsible for all foreign operations.

According to Francois Forget, secretary-general of the Ufap-Unsa union, Ganczarski had been informed "that he might be extradited" to the United States as part of investigations into the September 11 attacks.

- with AFP