Paris anti-terror raid ends; 2 dead, 7 arrested

Four police officers have been injured in the operation targeting Belgian jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud, believed to be the mastermind of Friday's attacks.

Updated - November 17, 2021 02:01 am IST

Published - November 18, 2015 10:31 am IST - PARIS

Soldiers patrol at Saint Denis on Wednesday. Police special forces raided an apartment, hunting those behind the attacks that claimed 129 lives in Paris  five days ago.

Soldiers patrol at Saint Denis on Wednesday. Police special forces raided an apartment, hunting those behind the attacks that claimed 129 lives in Paris five days ago.

Gunfire and explosions shook the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis early on Wednesday as French police surrounded a building where a Belgian Islamist militant suspected of masterminding last week's attacks in the French capital was believed to be holed up.

Two assailants were killed, including a woman who detonated a suicide bomb, a source close to the case said, adding that the police operation was continuing to flush out two other suspects.

The target of the raid, which filled the streets of Saint-Denis with heavily armed police and soldiers, was Islamic State militant Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was initially thought to have orchestrated the Paris attacks from Syria, police and justice sources said.

A judicial source said police had originally been hunting other suspects in St Denis, but now believed he was one of those barricaded in the building.

Shooting began at about 4.30 a.m. (9 a.m. IST) and police special forces of the RAID unit were still involved in exchanges of fire three hours later, witnesses said.

Live updates:

4:30 pm IST: French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll says a seven—hour police operation north of Paris targeting the mastermind of the Paris attacks and his accomplices, has ended.

4:25 pm IST: Police say a police dog was killed in the siege of an apartment where some of the Paris attackers are thought to be holed up.

The National Police said in a tweet that a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois named Diesel, a SWAT team assault dog, was “killed by terrorists” during the raid in Saint-Denis, north of Paris.

4:15 pm IST: Police have escorted out children and others from the scene of a big police standoff with suspects in last week’s Paris attacks.

4:00 pm IST: Armed security officers have fanned out around the historic Paris suburb of Saint—Denis during an hours—long standoff with police.

3:45 pm IST: 7 arrested in raids in Paris suburb linked to deadly attacks.

3:30 pm IST: A bill to extend France’s state of emergency for three months is being presented to a Cabinet meeting.

French president Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency for 12 days following Friday night’s attacks. Parliament must approve extending it.

3:10 pm IST: Austria’s interior ministry says a Belgian suspect sought in the Paris attacks was on an EU—wide police list when he was stopped in Austria in September, and his presence in the country was reported back to Belgian authorities.

2:55 pm IST: Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Justice Minister Christiane Taubira are meeting with the President.

2:50 pm IST: French President Francois Hollande is holding an emergency meeting at the Elysee Palace to monitor the raid on a suburban Paris apartment.

2.10 pm IST: A police official says that one person is still holed up in an apartment north of Paris after an hours—long standoff with police in which 2 have been killed and 5 arrested.

1.50 pm IST : Denmark’s National Police say it has raised its internal alert level, adding the Scandinavian country’s intelligence agency’s overall terror threat assessment has not been changed and remains “serious.”

Police says the reason for stepping up the alertness to “significant elevated preparedness” is “a result of the current uncertain situation in several European countries.”

1. 40 p.m. IST: The Paris prosecutor’s office says that SWAT teams have arrested three people who were holed up in the apartment. They haven't been identified yet.

Another man and woman were detained near the apartment, the statement says. It says the standoff is ongoing.

1: 00 p.m. IST: A French police official says the woman killed was wearing an explosive suicide vest.

12.35 p.m. IST: Police say two suspects in last week’s Paris attacks — a man and a woman, who blew herself up — have been killed in the operation at Saint-Denis. An official with the Paris Police department who was not authorised to be publicly named said two people have been detained, and four police officers injured in the standoff.

12.25 p.m. IST: A senior French police official says the large police operation north of Paris is targeting the suspected mastermind of last week’s attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

The official says authorities believe Abaaoud is holed up in an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, along with up to five other heavily armed people.

The official, who was not authorised to be publicly named according to police rules but is informed routinely about the operation, says that scores of police who stormed the building early Wednesday were met with unexpectedly violent resistance. Reinforcements were summoned and several people were injured.

12.15 p.m. IST: Authorities have evacuated about 20 residents from a building where suspects linked to the Paris attacks are holed up in a standoff with police.

A city official not authorised to be publicly named told The Associated Press the residents were brought to city hall for protection. City hall is about 200 m from the apartment building where the standoff is taking place on rue du Cornillon, in the heart of the historic, multicultural town just north of Paris.

Saint-Denis is one of France’s most historic places. French kings were crowned and buried through the centuries in its famed basilica. Today it is home to a vibrant and very ethnically diverse population and sees sporadic tension between police and violent youths.

12.06 p.m. IST: At least seven explosions have been heard at the scene of the police standoff. Associated Press reporters at the scene could hear what sounded like grenade blasts from the direction of the standoff in Saint-Denis.

The source of the blasts is unclear. Police say several people are holed up in an apartment and several police have been injured in an operation that has lasted at least three hours on Wednesday morning.

12:02 p.m. IST: Baptiste Marie, a 26-year-old independent journalist who lives near the scene of the standoff, tells The Associated Press: “It started with an explosion. Then there was second big explosion. Then two more explosions. There was an hour of gunfire.”

Resident Amin Guizani, 21, says: “There were grenades. It was going, stopping. Kalashnikovs. Starting again.”

Riot police were clearing the streets early Wednesday, pointing guns at curious residents to move them off the roads.

11: 50 a.m. IST: Intense gunfire and explosions heard at the site.

11.34 a.m. IST: Raid targets suspected Paris attacks mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud: French police source

11.25 a.m. IST: Police say anti-terrorist officers are raiding an apartment in a north Paris suburb where several men are holed up.

The Paris police department says officers have exchanged gunfire with the suspects and several police have been injured. The extent of their injuries is unknown.

It’s unclear whether there are injuries among the suspects.

Police reinforcements are arriving at the scene in Sain-Denis.

10.57 a.m. IST: Police vans and fire trucks are rushing to the scene of a SWAT team operation in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis that is linked to the deadly Paris attacks.

A helicopter is flying overhead at dawn on Wednesday.

French television BFM and i-Tele say that the suspects are inside an apartment building.

Police have cordoned off the area nearby, including a pedestrian zone lined with shops and 19th-century apartment buildings.

Neighbourhood resident Fabien Crombe said on BFM television that gunshots have repeatedly broken out since the police operation began, punctuated by silence and the sound of sirens.

Saint-Denis Mayor Didier Paillard said transport has been stopped and schools in the centre of town will not open on Wednesday.

10.45 a.m. IST: Authorities in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis are telling residents to stay inside during a large police operation near France’s national stadium that two officials say is linked to last week’s deadly attacks.

Deputy Mayor Stephane Peu told i-Tele television that there have been many gun shots and detonations in the operation that began at 4.25 a.m. (8.55 a.m. IST) on Wednesday on rue de la Republique in the centre of Saint-Denis.

The site is less than 2 km from the Stade de France, targeted by three suicide bombers during Friday’s attacks.

Two officials say police operation now under way is connected to the investigation into Friday’s attacks that killed 129 people.

One police official says there have been exchanges of gunfire and special SWAT teams are on the scene. The official was not authorised to be publicly named according to police policy.

Police have blocked off the area around Place Jean Jaures in Saint-Denis, just north of Paris.

French authorities have said they are searching for at least two people involved in last Friday’s attacks, which killed at least 129 people and 7 terrorists.

Ambulances can be seen and sirens heard in French television footage from the scene.

Shots rang out in the Saint-Denis area of northern Paris early on Wednesday as special police forces launched an operation to catch one of the suspects from Friday night’s shooting in the French capital, TV stations BFMTV and iTele both reported.

The gunfire is linked to the hunt for fugitives from Friday's shooting by Islamist militants in the French capital, a police source told Reuters.

BFMTV said some police had been wounded during the operation.

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