18 Nov 2015

Deadly police raid on Paris apartment

10:03 pm on 18 November 2015

Armed police have raided a flat in the north Paris suburb of Saint Denis in an operation linked to Friday's attacks.

Police operation in Saint-Denis, near Paris on November 18, 2015, five days after Paris terror attacks.

Armed police at the operation in Saint Denis, Paris, on 18 November - five days after the attacks. Photo: AFP

Watch a live stream of police on site in Saint Denis:

A female suspect blew herself up with a suicide belt, a prosecutor says. Some reports suggest two suspects died. There were explosions and gunfire in the operation, which is continuing.

Five people have also been arrested.

The focus of the operation is reported to be Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged mastermind of the Islamic State-claimed attacks that killed 129 people.

French army soldiers stand in position in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis city center, on November 18, 2015, as French Police special forces raid an appartment, hunting those behind the attacks that claimed 129 lives in the French capital five days ago.

Army soldiers stand in position as police special forces carry out the raid on the apartment in Saint-Denis. Photo: AFP

Roads have been blocked off around Rue de la Republique in Saint Denis, in the same district as the Stade de France, where suicide attackers detonated bombs on Friday.

Truckloads of soldiers joined armed police at the scene.

"I've been hearing gunshots continuously, like fireworks... There have been some breaks but .....to me it sounds like continuous gunshots," one resident, Benson Hoi, told the BBC.

At least five people were believed to have been in the targeted third floor flat in Rue de La Republique, French radio RTL reported.

At least two police officers had been wounded.

The operation began at around 04:30 local time (03:30 GMT). Deputy Mayor Stephane Peu urged local residents to stay indoors, saying "it is not a new attack but a police intervention."

Suspected mastermind

Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, had been thought to have organised Friday's attacks from Syria, but is now believed to have been one of the five in the Saint-Denis apartment.

An undated picture purportedly showing  27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud, taken from a February 2015 issue of Islamic State (IS) online magazine Dabiq.

An undated picture that claims to show 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud, taken from IS online magazine Dabiq. Photo: AFP / HO / DABIQ

Earlier, security sources said surveillance video showed a possible ninth assailant during Friday's attacks.

The video reportedly shows a third figure in the car carrying the group which attacked several bars and restaurants.

It is not clear if this ninth attacker is one of two suspected accomplices detained in Belgium or is someone still on the run.

The Eiffel Tower is illuminated with the French national colors in tribute to the victims of the November 13, 2015 Paris terror attacks.

The Eiffel Tower is illuminated with the French national colours in tribute to the victims of the 13 November attacks. Photo: AFP

The near simultaneous attacks on bars and restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade du France left more than 400 people wounded, with 221 still in hospital, 57 of them in intensive care.

European countries are on high alert. On Tuesday evening, a football friendly between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled shortly before kick-off and the stadium in Hanover evacuated after "concrete" information about a bomb threat, according to the city's police chief.

Part of Hanover's railway station was also closed while a suspicious object was investigated.

Meanwhile, two Air France planes heading to Paris from the US were diverted because of security threats. One was sent to Halifax in Canada, the other flew to Salt Lake City in the US state of Utah. Both planes landed safely and the passengers were unharmed.

Rescuers and police cordon off the area close to Rue Bichat following several attacks in Paris

Rescuers and police cordon off the area close to Rue Bichat following the attacks. Photo: AFP

- BBC