The suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks has reportedly been killed in a predawn raid by French police.
Citing information provided by two senior European officials, The Washington Post is reporting that more than 100 police officers and soldiers stormed an apartment building in Saint-Denis during a seven-hour siege that left at least two dead, including the ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
The other person killed during the operation was a woman who detonated a suicide bomb. Three others were arrested in the raid which started at 4:20 a.m. on Wednesday Paris time, one of whom had sustained a gunshot wound.
Police fired more than 5000 bullets, deployed snipers and threw stun grenades in the operation in which Abaaoud was the main target.
While French prosecutor François Molins says he cannot provide the identities of those killed during the raid, the two senior officials, speaking to The Post under anonymity, said they received confirmation that Abaaoud had died.
The apartment was targeted following a lead from a discarded cellphone found by authorities. Police suspected that an attack on the French capital’s La Defense business district was imminent.
A source close to the investigation told Sky News: “The police forces were looking for terrorists who were preparing another attack on the basis of information from the (local) counter-terrorism services and overseas.
“This new team was planning an attack on La Defense.”
This is the location of the raid:
Abaaoud, grew up in Brussels, bragged about how he had evaded authorities after his photo was circulated in connection to a terror plot in Belgium.
He has been on the radar of counter-terrorism authorities since it was discovered that he, and his 13-year-old brother, had fought in Syria, and were being used by ISIS as a poster boy to advertise the activity of European jihadists joining the terror group.
Earlier this year, ISIS’ propaganda magazine published an interview with Abaaoud describing his attempts to organise attacks in Europe: “We spent months trying to find a way into Europe, and by Allah’s strength, we succeeded in finally making our way to Belgium… We were then able to obtain weapons and set up a safe house while we planned to carry out operations against the crusaders.”
More to come.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.