A seven-hour long gun battle triggered by a French police raid against suspected Paris attack terrorists in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris ended with two terrorists and a civilian being killed on Wednesday.
A woman suicide bomber blew herself up during the police operation and seven people were arrested, Reuters reported.
The raid was part of an intense manhunt for the alleged mastermind of the 13/11 attacks, the Belgian islamist Abdelhamid Abaaoud who, police believed, might have been in St. Denis, near to the soccer stadium which was site of one of the attacks that hit Paris last week.
Police raided an apartment in the Paris suburb of St. Denis seeking suspects in last week's attacks in the French capital in a pre-dawn swoop. Three sources told Reuters the raid stopped a jihadist cell that had been planning an attack on Paris's business district, La Defense, after coordinated bombings and shootings killed 129 across the city.
However, more than nine hours after the launch of the pre-dawn raid it was still unclear if they had found Abdelhamid Abaaoud although seven people were arrested in the operation, which started with a barrage of gunfire, including three people who were pulled from the apartment, officials said.
"It is impossible to tell you who was arrested. We are in the process of verifying that. Everything will be done to determine who is who," Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said at the end of the operation.
Local residents spoke of their fear and panic as the shooting started in St. Denis just before 4.30 a.m. (0330 GMT).
"We could see bullets flying and laser beams out of the window. There were explosions. You could feel the whole building shake," said Sabrine, a downstairs neighbor from the apartment that was raided.
She told Europe 1 radio that she heard the people above her talking to each other, running around and reloading their guns.
Another local, Sanoko Abdulai, said that as the operation gathered pace, a young woman detonated an explosion.
"She had a bomb, that's for sure. The police didn't kill her, she blew herself up...," he told Reuters, without giving details.
Three police officers and a passerby were injured in the assault. A police dog was also killed.
French Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve told media after the raid that 'intelligence that led police to the apartment in Saint-Denis gave the impression that Abaaoud was likely to be there".
- The Paris raid has ended, and the area is being secured, French police told AFP.
- The French prosecutor has, however, not confirmed if Abaaoud has been killed. Who is Paris attack mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud?
- Some reports say that the Paris terror attack mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud has been killed in the police raid. One suspect is still said to be holed up.
- The Saint-Denis raid is said to be coming to an end. Five people have been arrested so far.
- Police are reportedly responding to a security alert at an apartment hotel in Bobigny, near Paris.
- Two people have been arrested in the police raid.
- Among the people killed in the police raid was a passer-by at Saint-Denis suburb, Sky News reported.
- One of the terror suspects killed is reported to be a woman wearing a suicide vest. She detonated her vest, Le Monde reported.
- Explosions heard from scene of raid at Saint-Denis.
- The French Army has now been deployed at the site of the raid in Saint-Denis suburb.
- Three terror suspects are reported to have been killed in the Saint-Denis raid, according to a European radio station. One person has been arrested.
- Suspected mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud is the target of the police raid in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, according to AFP.
- Eighth terror suspect Salah Abdeslam who had escaped after the attacks is also said to be holed up along with a ninth fugitive, as per reports.
- Two people have reportedly been killed in the police raid, Le Monde said.
- Some police officers have also been hurt in the exchange of gunfire.
Earlier, it was reported that heavy gunfire was reported from France's Saint-Denis area in Paris during the police raid on Tuesday night, days after the Paris terror attacks.
Two suspects linked to the Paris attacks, including the suspected mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud, were said to be holed up in an apartment in the Paris suburb, AFP reported.
Some police officers are said to have been shot during the exchange of gunfire, according to local media. Two people, said to be among the suspects, have reportedly been killed, according to France's Le Monde.
Saint-Denis is home to the Stade de France stadium which was one of the locations of the Isis terror attacks.
Following the Isis attacks last Friday that claimed 129 lives, French police have conducted hundreds of raids across the country.
Abaaoud, 27 years old resident of the Molenbeek neighbourhood in Brussels in Belgium, joined Isis two years ago and was said to be behind other terror attacks that were foiled.
The police are now reportedly hunting for a second fugitive believed to have taken part in the Friday the 13th terror attacks.
A second suspect is said to have escaped along with Salah Abdelslam. The suspect is believed to be one of the gunmen who attacked a cafe in Paris.
— Will Ripley (@willripleyCNN) November 18, 2015