French authorities say a “commando” of people arrested or killed in a massive police raid in Paris were a terror unit capable of staging a fresh, deadly attack.
Police stormed an apartment in the suburb in St. Denis on Wednesday as they continued their hunt for Abdelhamid Abaaoud – a Belgian Islamist militant accused of masterminding Friday’s deadly terror attacks. Despite early reports he was killed in the raid, there is now doubt over this.
Heavily armed officers entered the building before dawn, triggering a massive firefight and multiple explosions. Over 5000 rounds of ammunition were fired into the apartment, which was left shredded by the bullets.
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Eight people were arrested and forensic scientists are working to confirm if two or three militants died in the violence.
A woman blew herself up and a suspected jihadist was killed during the police assault. Five police officers and a passerby were injured in the assault. A police dog was also killed.
The identities of those who died in the apartment are not yet known.
Following the raid, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said: “A new team of terrorists was neutralised and all indications are that given their arms, their organisational structure and their determination, the commando could have struck.”
After the raid, authorities also confirmed they had found a mobile phone belonging to one of the gunmen and suicide bombers involved in Friday’s attacks. The phone was found in a bin outside the Bataclan music venue where 89 people were gunned down.
A text message showed one of the gunmen had sent a message saying “we’re ready, let’s go.” The message was sent at 9.42pm local time, before the attack, Molins said, adding that police were investigating who the message was sent to.