The hunt for the mastermind of last week’s attacks took a bloody turn Wednesday to a Paris suburb where a fierce gunbattle with police left at least two people dead and eight arrested. The fate of the alleged ringleader was unclear, with authorities saying he was not taken alive and they were trying to determine if he died in the raid.
Police launched the operation after receiving information from tapped phone calls, surveillance and tipoffs suggesting that 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud was holed up in an apartment in Paris’ Saint-Denis neighborhood.
Terrified residents awoke to gunfire and explosions as a SWAT team swooped in and “neutralized” what Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins called a “new team of terrorists” that appeared ready for a new attack.
Molins said the identities of the dead were still being investigated, but that neither Abaaoud nor another fugitive, Salah Abdeslam, was in custody. “At this time, I’m not in a position to give a precise and definitive number for the people who died, nor their identities, but there are at least two dead people,” Molins said. The site of Wednesday’s raid is not far from the Stade de France soccer stadium; three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the stadium during an international soccer game as part of the attacks last Friday that left 129 people dead and hundreds wounded.