Earlier today, the Washington Post reported that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian national believed to have masterminded the terror attacks in Paris last week was killed in a police raid this morning. The New York Times and the Associated Press, however, report that French authorities are still unsure.
Eight people were arrested or detained in the raid, the Times reports, and two bodies recovered. Authorities stated definitively that Abaaoud was not taken alive; however, it remains unclear whether either of the bodies was his. Another fugitive, Salah Abdeslam, was also not 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,” the Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said. “But there are at least two dead people.”
Police received a tip on Monday indicating that Abaaoud was not in Syria, as previously thought, but still in France. The tip ultimately led them to an apartment in the northern Paris suburb of St.-Denis—not far from the soccer stadium where Friday’s violence began—where several militants were preparing another attack. “This commando group was ready to act,” Molins said.
Seventy RAID commandos and 40 police officers surrounded the building on Rue du Corbillon in the pre-dawn hours on Wednesday, Reuters reports. “The security door didn’t give way when the first RAID (explosive) charges went off, which gave the terrorists time to prepare themselves,” Molins said.
“Hundreds of shots were exchanged,” the RAID chief, Jean-Michel Fauvergue, told Le Figaro newspaper. “The terrorists even threw grenades.” Five police were injured.
A woman who detonated a suicide bomb in the apartment is believed to have been Hasna Aitboulahcen, a cousin of Abaaoud’s. “The windows overlooking the road shattered,” Fauvergue said. “Bits of a body, part of a spinal cord, fell onto one of our cars.”