Gunfire and explosions shook the Paris suburb of St Denis early on Wednesday as French police surrounded a building where a Belgian Islamist militant suspected of masterminding last week’s attacks in the French capital was believed to be holed up.
Two assailants were killed, including a woman who detonated a suicide bomb, a source close to the case said, adding that the police operation was continuing to flush out two other suspects.
The target of the raid, which filled the streets of St Denis with heavily armed police and soldiers, was Islamic State militant Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was initially thought to have orchestrated the Paris attacks from Syria, police and justice sources said.
A judicial source said police had originally been hunting other suspects in St Denis, but now believed he was one of those barricaded in the building.
Shooting began at about 4.30 a.m. (0330 GMT) and police special forces of the RAID unit were still involved in exchanges of fire three hours later, witnesses said.
“The operation is still under way. It’s not over,” local member of parliament Mathieu Hanotin said on France Inter radio. “Everyone must stay indoors. There are still gunmen holed up in the apartment.”
Three police officers and a passerby were injured in the assault.
A police source said three suspects had been arrested so far with security forces still trying to “neutralise” two more at the scene close to the Stade de France stadium which was one of the targets of last Friday’s attacks.
The coordinated series of bombings and shootings killed 129 people, the worst atrocity in France since World War Two. Investigators soon linked the attacks to a militant cell in Belgium which was in contact with Islamic State in Syria.
Read more at Reuters