Paris raid on 'Terror Boss': Two dead

November 18, 2015, 1:44pm

Armed police sealed off Saint-Denis. Photo: AP

By BBC News

Two people were killed as police carried out a seven-hour raid on a flat suspected of housing the alleged mastermind of Friday's attacks.

A woman blew herself up with a suicide belt and another suspect was killed by gunfire. Seven arrests were made. But the fate of chief suspect Abdelhamid Abaaoud was not yet clear. He was initially thought to have directed the attacks from Syria, but prosecutor Francois Molins said intelligence indicated he was in Paris.

The French government said on Wednesday it had finally identified all the 129 victims of last Friday's attack. Follow the latest live events The operation began at 04:20 local time (03.20 GMT) in Saint-Denis, the same district as the Stade de France.

Speaking from the scene after the operation had ended, Mr Molins said it was ordered after phone taps and surveillance operations suggested Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan descent, could be there.

The prosecutor said a young woman - who France's BFMTV said was a relative of Abaaoud - detonated her explosives belt soon after the raid began. Another suspect was killed by grenades and police bullets, Mr Molins said.

Three men were arrested in the apartment. Two others were found hiding in rubble and a further two - including the man who provided the lodging - were also detained, he said.

"It is impossible to tell you who was arrested. We are in the process of verifying that. Everything will be done to determine who is who," he said.

As the operation got under way, roads were blocked off around Rue de la Republique in Saint-Denis, by truckloads of soldiers and armed police. Local residents, who were urged to stay indoors, spoke of hearing continuous gunshots and large explosions. Amine Guizani told the Associated Press he heard the sounds of grenades and automatic gunfire.

"They were shooting for an hour, non-stop. There were grenades. It was going, stopping, Kalashnikovs, starting again," he said. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised the security forces for operating "under fire for a number of hours in conditions that we have never seen before today".

The near simultaneous attacks on bars and restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade du France last Friday left more than 400 people wounded, with 221 still in hospital, 57 of them in intensive care.

The so-called Islamic State militant group said it carried out the attacks in response to France's air campaign against its leadership in Syria, and pledged further bloodshed.

European countries are on high alert. On Tuesday evening, a football friendly between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled shortly before kick-off and two Air France planes heading to Paris from the US were diverted because of security threats.

French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday that Islamic State threatens the whole world and he will be seeking a "large coalition" to work together to defeat the the militant group.