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Two terrorists dead in raid on Paris attacks mastermind

ON THE EDGE:A passerby raises his arms in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday, as police special forces raid an apartment in their search for those behindthe attacks that claimed 129 lives in the French capital last week.— PHOTO: AFP

ON THE EDGE:A passerby raises his arms in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday, as police special forces raid an apartment in their search for those behindthe attacks that claimed 129 lives in the French capital last week.— PHOTO: AFP  

Eight suspects holed up in apartment held

The residents of the suburb of Saint-Denis in the north of Paris were jolted awake at 4.30 a.m. on Wednesday by the sound of gunfire and sirens as French security forces conducted an operation to apprehend Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian national suspected to be the ringleader of last Friday’s terror attacks in the city.

Saint-Denise is an area close to the Stade de France, the national stadium that was one of the sites of the November 13 bomb attacks. The target of the pre-dawn raid was an apartment in which four suspects, including Abaaoud, were believed to have been holed up. The operation resulted in a stand-off for several hours between the security forces and the suspects.

French media reports said one woman suicide-bomber blew herself up in the apartment while another terrorist was killed by a grenade. Eight suspects, including a woman, were arrested in the operation. The police have not named any of those who died or were arrested. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Mr. Abaaoud was not among those arrested, though some unconfirmed reports said he had been killed.

Alarmed residents were warned to remain inside their homes and keep away from windows. Some were evacuated. Images of the shootout showed how heavy the deployment of armed security personnel was in a narrow street lined with closed shops. Schools and colleges in Saint-Denis remained closed and public transport was cancelled.

Quoting investigation sources, AP reported that the terrorists trained for the Paris attacks in Raqqa, and at least 24 people were part of the operation. French President Francois Hollande, in a speech at a conference of the nation’s mayors, urged the people not to “give into fear” and stay calm. “I can imagine the concern of the people of Saint-Denis and would like to comment on their levelheadedness and express solidarity with the mayor of Saint-Denis because the attack on the Stade de France happened in his constituency,” he said.

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