A French armed robber narrowly avoided capture more than three weeks after escaping from prison, police say.
Convicted gangster Rédoine Faïd was spotted by patrol officers near Paris on Tuesday, police sources told AFP news agency.
He fled the scene and abandoned a car with explosives and fake number plates in a shopping centre car park.
The Jailbird King, as he is dubbed by French media, was serving a 25-year sentence for a 2010 failed robbery during which a police officer was killed.
This was Faïd’s second jailbreak — in 2013, he escaped prison for six weeks after seizing four guards as human shields and blowing off several doors with dynamite.
On Tuesday afternoon, police officers identified Faïd as one of two people in a car «observing a service station», AFP says.
The officers «wanted to carry out a check on the people in the car», when «they fled the scene and drove towards Sarcelles», a northern suburb of Paris.
When police found the abandoned vehicle with plastic explosives in an underground car park, authorities sealed off the shopping centre and bomb disposal experts were called in.
«We do not yet know where the explosives were being taken,» a senior prosecutor told AFP.
This is the first sighting of the escaped convict since 1 July, after which some 2,900 police officers have joined a national manhunt.