The fate of the suspected mastermind of the recent terrorist attacks in the French capital of Paris still remains unknown, following a police raid that left at least two suspects dead.
Those killed in the raid in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis have not been identified yet, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said on Thursday, indicating that authorities don’t know if Abdelhamid Abaaoud – the mastermind of the late Friday attacks – is among them.
“I am not able to give you a precise number and identity of those killed. There are at least two dead and verifications will likely take longer than expected,” Molins said.
About eight men and women were arrested when police raided an apartment in Saint-Denis in a raid targeted against Abaaoud on Wednesday, he added. Almost 24 hours after the raid, however, it is not clear if Abaaoud was actually in the apartment raided.
Neither the 28-year-old Belgian Abaaoud nor Salah Abdeslam, another suspect wanted over links to the November 13 Paris attacks, were among those detained.
This is while two senior European officials earlier said that they had received information from French authorities that Abaaouds had indeed been killed, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
5,000 rounds shot
Early into the raid on the Saint-Denis apartment, a woman reportedly detonated her explosive belt after shooting at police. Reports indicated that the female terrorist may have been Hasna Aitboulahcen, a cousin of Abaaoud.
The pre-dawn raid lasted for some seven hours; dozens of police officers had to bring down a reinforced door and fired some 5,000 rounds before the raid finally ended.
Following the raid, forensics experts arrived at the severely damaged apartment to collect DNA and other evidence.
Abaaoud is a known supporter of Takfiri Daesh militants and has been linked to a number of other attempted terrorist acts. He was believed to have been in Syria earlier this year, before returning to Europe.
He is believed to have been the mastermind of a series of attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people and injured about 350 others. Daesh claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Shortly afterwards, French President Francois Hollande said the attacks originated from Syria, where Daesh militants are operating.
France, which has been supporting militants in their violent campaign to topple the Syrian government over the past few years, has vowed to expand airstrikes against Daesh in the Arab country.