The suspected mastermind of last week’s deadly Paris terror attacks is confirmed to have been killed in a police raid two days ago in Saint-Denis.
French officials confirmed Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan origin linked to a series of extremist plots in Europe over the past two years, died in the assault on Wednesday. It’s believed his identity was confirmed from fingerprints.
Authorities say it is unclear whether Abaaoud had detonated a suicide belt.
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Prime minister Manuel Valls broke the news in parliament to applause from lawmakers, who were voting to extend the country’s state of emergency for a further three months. “We know today … that the mastermind of the attacks — or one of them, let’s remain cautious — was among those dead,” Mr Valls told reporters.
Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Abaaoud was implicated in four of six foiled attacks in France since March this year.
Early on Wednesday morning, following a tip-off from a member of the public and some leads in the investigation, police stormed the building where they believed Abaaoud was holed up. Heavily armed officers were met with an onslaught of bullets from those inside, sparking a massive fire fight that lasted several hours.
Officials had confirmed a female suicide bomber, believed to be Abaaoud’s cousin, blew herself up in the raid.
Forensic scientists were trying to determine whether a third person had died.
Eight people were arrested.
It’s believed the terrorists cell had been planning fresh attacks in the French capital.