Retreat under hostile fire

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The Independent Online
PARIS (Reuter) - France's Justice Minister, Michel Vauzelle, embarrassed by a spate of jailbreaks, appeared to back down yesterday after prison guards' unions ridiculed the idea of opening fire on helicopters used in escape attempts, saying it would endanger innocent people on the ground.

The justice ministry issued a statement saying Mr Vauzelle, who had been speaking about the four helicopter escape bids since July, had not said he favoured firing on helicopters.