French authorities have confirmed that Belgian jihadi Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind behind the deadly attacks in Paris last week, was killed in the raid on a suburban Saint Denis apartment on Wednesday. Making an announcement on Thursday afternoon, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins’ office said 27-year-old Abaaoud was identified based on skin samples. His body was found in the apartment building targeted in the chaotic and bloody raid that stretched over six hours in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday.
Two suspects were killed in the raid that began at dawn on Wednesday. The police, however, were not able to identify them till as late as early Thursday. Besides, eight other people were arrested in the raids.
The body that had sustained a number of gunshots was “not in a state that allows it to be identified,” city prosecutor Molins claimed on Wednesday.
Police also believe that of the two suspected terrorists that were killed, one of them was a woman suicide bomber who blew herself up with a suicide vest when the cross-fire was still on.
More than 5000 rounds of ammunition were fired by the police on the building and they pulled out two bodies riddled with bullets from inside. And because the building was so severely damaged, it was impossible to confirm how many died and who they were, the prosecutor said while speaking to the media.
When the raid began, the police had intelligence information that Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who is the suspected mastermind behind last week’s terror attacks, was hiding in the apartment in Saint Denis. But it took them over 24 hours to confirm that Abaaoud was present at the firing site and he was indeed dead.
However, prosecutor Molins said the raid had thwarted a team of terrorists that could have struck with possibly another deadly attack.
“A new team of terrorists was neutralised and all indications are that given their arms, their organizational structure and their determination, the commando could have struck,” he said.
“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 added.
In Wednesday’s raid, a series of explosions also took place as the police closed in on the apartment. Reports say that one suspect was seen being dragged away by another. Terrified residents living in the area near the Stade de France stadium had to be evacuated.
Abaaoud, a Belgian national, was said to be a 27-year-old Islamic State (IS) fighter who was previously thought to be in Syria after fleeing raids in Belgium earlier this year. He was believed to be the mastermind behind the gun and bomb attacks that killed close to 130 people at 7 different locations in Paris last week. The worst target was the Bataclan, the concert hall, where 89 people were killed.
(With inputs from agencies)