Early morning raids in Saint-Denis, France, this morning by French authorities have left five to seven suspects arrested and two dead, in addition to a police dog dying in the line of duty. Saint-Denis is a Parisian suburb, and according to French prosecutors, the target of the raids was Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the New York Times reports.
Abaaoud is believed to have been the mastermind behind the November 12 attacks, and according to the Telegraph, he is believed to have been killed during this morning’s raid in Saint-Denis.
Saint-Denis is known for its significant Muslim population and for being a cultural melting pot of sorts.
Diesel, a 7-year-old police dog, died during the raids in Saint-Denis, according to Paris police. The Independent reports that Diesel was killed by terrorists during the Saint-Denis raids.
— Police Nationale (@PNationale) November 18, 2015
Around seven explosions and multiple bursts of gunfire were heard throughout the Paris suburb, and two terror suspects were killed during the early-morning raid. The New York Times reports that a woman died when she detonated an explosive vest during the Saint-Denis raid. Five police officers sustained minor injuries during the raid, and Special Forces cordoned off an area near the Place Jean-Jaures, a major square in Saint-Denis. The square is not far from the Stade de France, where three of the seven attackers from the devastating terror attacks on November 12 blew themselves up.
While Abaaoud is believed to have been the target of the Saint-Denis early-morning siege, authorities report that they were not certain that he was at the target location. One Saint-Denis resident, Djamila Khaldi, said a friend of hers thought she had seen one of the wanted men, Salah Abdeslam, on Monday, but that fear had paralyzed her, and she did not report the sighting to police.
“She was terrified and she looked at another woman knowing that she recognized him too,” Khaldi said, according to the New York Times.
Two of the seven that were taken into custody are currently in hospital in Bobigny, according to the Telegraph, and security around the hospital is said to be very tight. In the wake of today’s Saint-Denis raid, French president François Hollande is calling for a “large coalition” of forces to combine and attack ISIS, the group who claimed responsibility for the French terror attacks November 12.
A man arrested today during the Saint-Denis raid told Agence France-Presse that he had lent the apartment where the suspects were found as a favor to a friend. When he mentioned that there was no mattress in the apartment, “they told me, ‘It’s not a problem,’ they just wanted water and to pray.” The man was later led away in handcuffs. The Telegraph reports that he had a previous eight-year sentence for murder.
The location of the Saint-Denis hideout was determined from one of the attackers’ cell phones, which was discovered in a trash can near the Bataclan concert hall following the attacks November 12. The Bataclan is the site where 89 died at the hands of the terrorists.
Saint-Denis schools were closed and public transportation has been suspended until further notice, according to CNN. A resident of the Saint-Denis area, Riad Moudache, was told by police to evacuate the area, but Moudache wanted to get to his 3-year-old daughter to protect her.
The Telegraph reported that Abaaoud was not among those arrested during the Saint-Denis raid, but it is believed that the suspects that were holed up during the raid were possibly in the final stages of planning another attack.
[Photo by Pierre Suu/Getty Images]