Two killed in Paris in raid on attack suspect
AFP photoA woman blew herself up and a suspected jihadist was killed, as seven suspects were detained Nov. 18 in a massive police assault in Paris targeting the possible mastermind of last week’s Paris attacks that killed at least 129 people and wounded more than 300.
Gunfire and explosions rocked the Saint-Denis area in the north of the city, near the Stade de France stadium, where a portion of the attacks had taken place, from before dawn as terrified residents were evacuated or told to stay in their homes, Agence France-Press reported.
Authorities arrested seven people as five police officers suffered minor injuries in the operation, a seven-hour stand-off between security forces and a group of people holed up in an apartment.
Black-clad elite police were seen hauling away a naked suspect in the streets near where three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the football stadium at the start of attacks on Nov. 13.
After the raid, white-suited forensic experts swarmed the building as police tried to verify if Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the attacks, had been in the apartment.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said a probe into the attacks allowed police “to obtain telephonic surveillance and witness testimony which led us to believe that Abaaoud was likely to be in an... apartment in Saint-Denis.”
However, Molins added it was too early to say if he was among those arrested or killed.
Abaaoud is an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighter who was previously thought to be in Syria after fleeing raids in his native Belgium earlier this year.
Police are hunting for two other individuals, including 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, suspected of taking part in the attacks with his suicide-bomber brother Brahim.
French President François Hollande said France was “at war” against terrorism by ISIL, adding that he wanted a “large coalition” working together against ISIL militants to destroy a group that threatens the whole world and “commits massacres” in the Middle East.
Hollande reiterated that he wanted to extend a state of emergency for another three months.
The president praised security forces for their role in “the particularly perilous and taxing” operation. He told a gathering of mayors that municipal police would be given more weapons and equipment from the stock of the national police.
But Hollande urged the nation not to “give in to fear” or excessive reactions in the wake of the attacks. “No anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim act can be tolerated,” he said.
All of those killed in the attack have now been identified, a statement from the French cabinet said.
As police stepped up the hunt for the fugitives, French and Russian jets pounded ISIL targets in the group’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa for a third consecutive day.
A monitoring group said the air strikes had killed at least 33 ISIL militants in the last 72 hours.
A night before, an international football friendly between Germany and the Netherlands was canceled in Hannover at the last minute and the stadium evacuated by police because of a bomb threat.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Nov. 18 that German security services took the responsible decision to cancel the match.