Seven people have been arrested and at least two are dead after a police operation early Wednesday in Saint Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, according to police statements to the media.
“There were at least two dead, maybe more,” France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told lawmakers on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
There were multiple reports of heavy gunfire and explosions during the raid, which started at 4:20 a.m. Paris time and ended around 11:50 a.m.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who authorities believe is the mastermind behind Friday night’s attacks in Paris, was the main target of the raid. Officials had previously said Abaaoud was believed to be working with ISIS in Syria.
Salah Abdeslam, who is on the run and accused by the police of carrying out the attacks, and an unidentified “ninth attacker” were also believed to be in the apartment.
Officials have not confirmed the identities of any of the seven people arrested or the two people killed.
Police sources told CNN they had reason to believe the suspects were “about to move on some kind of operation,” so the raid came “right on time.”
Two police sources and a source close to the investigation told Reuters that the suspects were planning an attack on Paris’ La Defence business district.
One of those killed during the operation was a woman who detonated a suicide bomb, according to a statement from the Paris prosecutor’s office cited by The New York Times. Another person was reportedly fatally shot by the police.
Three people found in the apartment targeted in the raid are in custody, according to the prosecutor’s office statement. Two unidentified people — a man and a woman — were arrested near the apartment.
Two other people were arrested in the building, The Associated Press reports, citing a senior police official.
Several police officers were injured in the raid.
French police reportedly arrested 25 people and seized 34 weapons in separate raids overnight.
Authorities have identified five of the seven attackers killed last Friday. The police believe two men involved in carrying out the attacks escaped. It is unclear whether the men in the apartment were the escaped suspects.
The mayor of Saint Denis, Didier Paillard, told France Info that he heard gunfire nonstop for over an hour starting at 4:30 a.m.
The information that led to Wednesday’s raid came from a cell phone found in a garbage can near the Bataclan concert hall, where at least 89 people were killed on Friday night, according to Reuters. At least 129 people died Friday in the bombings and shootings, with hundreds more injured. The cell phone contained a map of the music venue and a text message saying, essentially, “Let’s go.”
French President Francois Hollande said Wednesday the raid aimed to “neutralise terrorists.” He said it served as further confirmation that the world is “at war” with ISIS.
ISIS “has an army, financial resources, oil resources, and occupies a territory. It has accomplices in Europe. … It commits barbarous massacres,” Hollande said, according to CNN.
This is the location of the raid:
Here’s what it looked like on the ground:
French police officers securing the area as shots were exchanged in Saint-Denis on Wednesday.
AP Photo/Francois Mori
Police officers taking up positions in Saint Denis on Wednesday.
Videos and photos from the scene were shared on social media:
Saint Denis is about 7 miles from the center of Paris. It is also the location of the Stade de France, the scene of one of Friday’s attacks.
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