Deaths have been reported after the French police raided an apartment in search of suspects linked to the 13 November attacks in Paris that left 129 dead and wounding more than 350 people.

The raid, led by heavily armed police investigating the Paris attacks, started at 4.10am in Saint Denis, a stones throw from the Stade De France, a northern suburb of Paris, where the sound of grenades followed heavy gunfire exchanges.

The first reports confirmed at least one terrorist had been killed by a sniper while a female suspect killed herself by detonating a vest rigged with explosives.

The woman who triggered her explosive belt is the first ever female kamikaze to die in France.

At least three police officers were wounded in the initial shootout, according to BFM TV.

At 7am GMT, one suspect was still holed up in the apartment, according to the authorities, as French justice minister Christiane Taubira said the raid was coming to an end.

Target of the operation is Abdelhamid Abbaoud

Police sources said the target of the operation is Belgian jihadist Abdelhamid Abbaoud, the mastermind behind the Paris attacks, after reports claimed he may not be in Raqqa, as initially believed.

Abaaoud, a 28-year-old of Moroccan origin, has been linked to a number of terror plots and recruitment efforts in Europe over the past two years. The eighth suspect in the attack, Salah Abdeslam, was also said to be a target in the raid.

Police told local residents and onlookers to clear the vicinity of the operation and to stay away from windows. Public transport has also been halted in the area.


09:54am GMT

The police dog killed during the raid has been named as Diesel. It was a 7 year old Belgian Malinois.

09: 52am GMT

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman) announces a solemn declaration condemning terrorism will be broadcast in every mosque for the Friday sermons.

09:47am GMT

French broadcaster BFM TV reports that the female kamikaze screamed and ran towards the police officers before detonating her vest rigged with explosives.

09:38am GMT

Quoting a source close to the investigation, Belgian public broadcaster RTBF, French broadcaster France 24 and Reuters news agency claim the suspects in the apartment raided were preparing to commit attacks against the Défense.

The Défense, the modern financial center of Paris, is Europes largest purpose-built business district.

It is the equivalent to the City of London.

09:22am GMT

The authorities have not yet confirmed whether any of the terror suspects targeted by the police raid is Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian mastermind of the Paris bombings.

The 27-year-old senior Islamic State commander was identified by Belgian officials in January as the architect of the thwarted attempt to kill police officers in Verviers. Two were killed in a gun battle during a police raid on the eastern Belgian town.

Abaaoud is also believed to have been behind the unsuccessful terrorist attacks on the Thalys train 9364, a high-speed train travelling between Amsterdam and Paris, and a church in the French capital in August and April.

More on Abaaoud here.

09:11am GMT

Reports are emerging that five officers from the French National Polices counter-terrorist unit, Raid, have been lightly injured in the operation, according to BFM TV.

09:06am GMT

A total of five people have been taken into custody - including the owner of the flat raided by police.

The police have placed a white tarpaulin near the entrance to the apartment bloc.

08:54am GMT

Local reporters describe how members of the French scientific police has arrived on the scene of the raid.

The owner of the apartment raided by police has been named as Jawad Ben Dow by Reuters news agency.

08:51am GMT

French authorities confirm at least 33 members of the Islamic State (Isis) have been killed in French and Russian air-strikes on the North of Syria in the last 72 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), confirmed on Wednesday.

08:34am GMT

The Interior Ministry confirmed no terror suspect is on the run.

08:32am GMT

The French National Polices counter-terrorist unit, Raid, is fine-toothed combing the apartment bloc.

A police dog was also killed in the raid, it has emerged.

Saint Denis local member of parliament Mathieu Hanotin confirmed there were no civilian victim following the operation.

08:11am GMT

Family members of Omar Ismaïl Mostefaï, the bomber who was identified by his severed finger found in the rubble of the Bataclan concert hall, and a second Bataclan suicide bomber Samy Amimour have been released from police custody, according to the Paris Public Prosecutor.

07:56am GMT

The Paris Public Prosecutor confirmed a man and a woman, who were not in the apartment but nearby, have also been taken into police custody.

He also confirmed that three men, who were holed up, were extracted (from the flat) by the Raid and were taken into custody. Their identities have not been established at this stage, the prosecutor said.

Helicopters have stopped flying over the raid zone, as witnesses describe a deafening silence on Rue du Corbillon in Saint Denis.

Explosions were last heard 1h30 mins ago.

07:54am GMT

07:51am GMT

A local resident described how he heard a man or a woman screaming in the apartment after a shootout with the police. I think they were hurt, he told local media.

07:39am GMT

The owner of the apartment on 8 Rue du Corbillon, targeted by police, described how he was asked by a friend to rent his flat out to a number of people.

A friend asked me to host two of his buddies for a few days, the man, in his thirties, anonymously told BFM TV.

I said there was no mattress, they told me its okay , they just wanted water and to pray, the owner said, adding he did not previously know they were from Belgium.

I was asked to help out, I helped out, I was not aware they were terrorists, said the man, who appeared to be very agitated, before being handcuffed.

The owner was taken away by police.

07:23am GMT

Police sources confirmed one or two suspects were still holed up in the apartment.

Local journalists described the tension around Saint Denis, as calm returned.

According to David Thompson, journalist at Paris Radio France International (RFI), if Paris attacks mastermind Abaaoud France was in France we would be beyond the security flaw, he is the most famous French jihadist.

07:10am GMT

Calm has returned around the apartment in Saint Denis, 800m from the Stade de France stadium, where authorities confirm two terror suspects including a woman have been killed, according to police sources.

Three people have been arrested - the first ones since the attacks.

A number of different police forces led the attack, including the SDAT elite counter-terrorist task-force and the Raid research, assistance, intervention and deterrence unit.

Christian, a resident, told BFM TV: At 4am, we were sleeping and all of a sudden there were heavy gun shots. In my street, we saw police officers firing shots at the flats in front of my apartment.

The witness described how he heard explosions, before police asked a woman, near his flat, to put her hands up or they would shoot.

Christian then said he heard a loud explosion coming from the flat, which blew away the windows.