The attack took place about half a mile from Manchester Crown Court about 9 a.m., The Guardian reported. Ryan MacDonald, 20, who was scheduled for sentencing for conspiracy to commit robbery, and Stevie McMullen, 31, on trial for conspiracy to kidnap, rob, commit arson and possess firearms, were freed. A third prisoner in the van remained in custody.
MacDonald and McMullen remained at large late Tuesday. Police arrested a man and woman in the neighborhood where a Saab believed used in the escape was abandoned.
A witness told the BBC he saw the green Saab hit the side of the prison van.
"I called the police and then I could just hear the smashing, the screams, everything that was happening," he said.
Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan warned the public to keep their distance if they spot the missing prisoners.
"I am concerned about them being on the loose," he said. "They are responsible for some serious offenses. I don't think they present a risk unless they're approached."