The alleged sponsor and mastermind of the November 13 massacre in Paris, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed in a Wednesday raid by French forces in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, a media report suggests.
The Washington Post cited two senior European intelligence officials as saying that Abaaoud, who was the primary target of the special operation, was killed.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters on Wednesday evening the police raid in Saint-Denis eliminated a “terrorist team planning new attacks.”
He did not immediately confirm or deny the reported death of Abaaoud.
The identities of the two people killed in the raid – including a female who blew herself up with a suicide vest – are yet to be determined, he added.
French special forces teams fired 5,000 rounds during the raid and had to resort to the use of powerful munitions. Only body parts were found afterwards. Investigators are using DNA analysis to determine the identities of terrorists who were killed.
Overall eight people were arrested during the siege and detained for questioning, the prosecutor said, stressing that Abaaoud was not among them.
“I can say that Abaaoud and Salah Abdeslam are not among those taken into detention,” he said.
Over 800 police officers were involved in the operation, Molins said, adding that Wednesday’s raid was carried out following a verified tip suggesting that Abaaoud was still in France.
“A total war arsenal,” including Kalashnikovs and explosive belts, was found in the Saint-Denis apartments, the official said. “Everything leads us to believe that given their weaponry, and level of preparation, they were ready to act,” he added.
Providing more details on the Friday’s shocking Paris attacks, the prosecutor said three coordinated teams of commandos had carried out the shootings and bombings. The terrorists arrived in Paris in a convoy of three vehicles – all small passenger cars rented in Belgium.
A mobile phone was discovered near the Bataclan theatre that contained a sent message saying “Here we go. We are starting,” Molin revealed. The investigators are now trying to discover who received that message, he added.