Paris attacks: 2 dead, 7 caught in suburb raid
GUNFIRE and explosions shook the Saint-Denis suburb in north Paris yesterday, when French police and paramilitary forces raided an apartment where militant Abdelhamid Abaaoud, suspected of masterminding last week's attacks in the French capital, was possibly holed up.
A woman died after detonating a bomb at the scene, Reuters reported, adding that three people in the apartment were arrested and four others, one of them a woman, were seized outside it.
A man, whose identity was not known, was killed by bullets and hand grenades in the pre-dawn raid.
Seven hours after the operation started, the police announced it was over, but Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told journalists that it was still unclear whether Abaaoud was in the apartment.
Until yesterday morning, French officials had said the Belgium-born Abaaoud was in Syria.
Phone taps, surveillance and witness accounts led investigators to believe that Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Belgian citizen who called himself a "terrorist tourist" on Facebook, was holed up in Saint-Denis, reported Bloomberg.
He grew up in Brussels, and according to reports, moved to Syria in 2013 to fight with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, which has claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks.
A man in Saint-Denis told local BFMTV that he rented the besieged apartment to two people last week, not knowing they were terrorists.
Sabrine, a neighbour, recounted the assault to Europe 1 radio : "We could see bullets flying and laser beams out of the window. There were explosions. You could feel the whole building shake."
Five policemen were injured and a police dog was killed during the assault, which took place close to the Stade de France, one of the targets in Friday's attacks.
Police have identified five of the seven assailants who struck on Friday, all of whom were dead.
But they believe two other men also directly involved have escaped, including Saleh Abdeslam, 26, a Belgian-based Frenchman.