Like a scene from a crime thriller film, a prisoner who faced interrogation over a murder was shot to death inside his French jail by a sniper positioned on a nearby hill.

The suspected gunman, his rifle still warm from the shooting, was later arrested as he tried to flee the scene on a motorbike.

Another inmate, a friend of the dead man, was injured in the attack during which five shots were fired into the exercise yard of the jail at Varces-Grenoble, in southeast France.

It was the first time in France that someone in prison had been killed from outside, French Justice Minister Rachida Dati said.

The murdered prisoner was identified by a French newspaper as Sghair Lamiri, who was born in 1979 and had links to organized crime.

Lamiri was serving an eight-year sentence for robberies committed in 2001 and 2002 and was about to be questioned about a murder case, Dati said.

Ms Dati did not name the suspected gunman, but said he was 58 years old and was in custody.

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