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French government defends prison units for Islamic militants

Justice minister Jean-Jacques says there are fewer attacks on prison officials in radical units than others

Published: Updated:

France’s justice minister is defending specialized prison units for Islamic militants after a recent attack on guards, saying the units see less violence than the rest of the overcrowded French prison system.

Jean-Jacques Urvoas said on Tuesday on France-Inter radio that he will not close the five units around France that group together Islamic militants, despite complaints from prison workers’ unions after two guards were injured in Osny north of Paris.

Urvoas said that kind of attack is “intolerable,” but “paradoxically” there are fewer such attacks in radical units than others.

Urvoas spoke from a prison in the Paris suburb of Fresnes, where he is announcing plans on Tuesday to create more spaces in prison to tackle overcrowding, a decades-old problem that has gained new attention amid the country's state of emergency.