19 Nov 2015

Two die in raids targeting alleged attacks organiser

8:52 am on 19 November 2015

A woman has blown herself up and a suspect was shot dead during a huge police operation in Paris.

Riot police and forensics teams outside the Saint-Denis building raided by police on Wednesday.

Riot police and forensics teams outside the Saint-Denis building raided by police. Photo: AFP

Police targeted the flat in Saint-Denis in a search for the alleged organiser of Friday's gun and bomb attacks, when 129 people were killed.

The fate of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, previously thought to be in Syria, is still unclear.

Prosecutor Francois Molins said intelligence indicated he was in Paris.

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

The raids began in Saint-Denis before dawn on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

The operation in Saint-Denis - where the Stade de France is located - began at 04.20am local time.

Speaking from the scene afterwards, Mr Molins said it had been ordered after phone taps and surveillance operations suggested Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan descent, could be there.

The prosecutor said a young woman - said by France's BFMTV to be a relative of Abdelhamid Abaaoud - had detonated her explosives belt soon after the raid began.

Another suspect was killed by grenades and police bullets, Mr Molins said.

Five members of the RAID police anti-terrorism unit were lightly injured.

Three men were arrested in the apartment. Two others were found hiding in rubble and a further two - including the man who provided the lodging - were also detained. Abdelhamid Abaaoud was not among those arrested, he said.

Police and forensics teams in Saint-Denis after the raids.

Police and forensics teams in Saint-Denis after the raids. Photo: AFP

As the operation in Saint-Denis got under way, roads were blocked off around Rue de la Republique by lorry-loads of soldiers and armed police.

Local residents, who were urged to stay indoors, spoke of hearing continuous gunshots and large explosions.

Police forensics teams are searching the apartment in Saint Denis after the raid.

Police forensics teams are searching the apartment in Saint Denis after the raid. Photo: AFP

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 purportedly showing 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud, taken from Islamic State (IS) online magazine Dabiq. Photo: AFP / HO / DABIQ

All victims of Friday's attacks - which targeted a concert hall, cafes and the Stade de France stadium and were claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS) group - have now been identified, the government said.

The near simultaneous attacks on Friday left more than 400 people wounded, with 221 still in hospital, 57 of them in intensive care.

IS said it had carried out the attacks in response to France's air campaign against its leadership in Syria, and pledged further bloodshed.

European countries are on high alert. On Tuesday evening, a football friendly between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled shortly before kick-off and two Air France planes heading to Paris from the US were diverted because of security threats.

- BBC