Two suspected terrorists are dead and eight more were detained after French police stormed the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis just before dawn on Wednesday.
Previously, it had been reported that a female terrorist suspect had blown herself up when she saw police closing in on her, but at a news conference Wednesday evening, prosecutor Francois Mollins backed away from this claim, saying that “this point needs to be verified by an analysis of the body and human remains as well as by all the forensic police operations that have to be carried out.”
More than 100 French police and army troops descended on the apartment. Helicopters flew overhead, warning residents of the sleepy town to stay inside. What authorities found in that apartment led them to another residence on the same street, where they detained four more individuals, CNN reports.
“It was really like guerrilla warfare,” a resident named Pierre-Eric told French cable network BFM-TV of being awoken by heavy gunfire, according to The Times.
The suspected terrorists were allegedly “about to move on some kind of operation,” a police source told CNN on Wednesday morning. The source did not elaborate on the nature of that operation.
Phone surveillance led authorities to the apartment, where it was likely that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of Friday’s terror attacks, was staying, Paris prosecutor Fran ois Molins said. It’s unclear if Abaaoud was detained or killed in Wednesday’s raid, and French police have yet to confirm that he was, in fact, a target of the operation.
Five officers were “lightly wounded” and a police dog was killed in the raid, police confirmed Wednesday.
One of those detained – identified only as Jawad – was reportedly the lease-holder of one of the apartments raided.
“It’s apparently my apartment,” he told TV crews during his arrest. “A friend asked me for a favor. To loan the apartment for two, three days.
“I didn’t know these people at all, someone asks you a favor, you do them a service…” he trailed off as he was led away.
Speaking shortly after the raid’s conclusion, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised the actions of the security services, describing that the operation involved 110 members of the police who had been “shot at for many hours” under “conditions they had never met before.”
Cazeneuve also praised the people of Saint-Denis for calmly following the instructions of the French police throughout the morning’s events, adding that “they contributed to the success of this operation.”