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FILE PHOTO: A special police officer stands guard in front the jail of Sequedin near Lille, northern France April 14, 2013. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

(reuters_tickers)

By Emmanuel Jarry

PARIS (Reuters) - A convict who escaped from a French prison in a helicopter with the help of an armed commando team was arrested by police on Wednesday after a three-month hunt, adding another chapter to the life of a gangster dubbed the "jailbreak king".

Redoine Faid, who escaped in July from a high-security prison where he was serving 25 years for a heist in which a policewoman was killed, was arrested at an apartment in Creil, the area where he grew up, an hour's drive north of Paris.

About 50 officers, some of them elite troops, took part in the pre-dawn raid, in which they also arrested a brother of Faid, two other men and a woman, police sources said. Guns were found at the premises, they added.

Faid, 46, became a notorious semi-celebrity after penning a tell-all book about his colourful life, describing how he was born into crime in high-rise housing estates of the kind that sprouted around Paris in the 1960s and 1970s.

The book came out in 2010, shortly after his release from jail for a previous hold-up conviction. But within months he was arrested again over an attack on a cash-transport truck that lead to the death of a young policewoman.

Faid's notoriety made him almost a household name when he subsequently took four prison wardens hostage and dynamited his way out of a jail in northern France in 2013. He spent six weeks on the run before he was tracked down and put back behind bars.

The lastest jailbreak, in which armed men with power saws landed in an open-air prison courtyard to free him from an adjacent visitor room before flying out in their hijacked helicopter, prompted a political debate over security in France, where wardens went on strike last year over safety standards.

(Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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Reuters