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Belgian jihadist mastermind of Paris attacks 'killed in raid'

Published 18/11/2015

Fans hold a French flag outside Wembley Stadium in London
Fans hold a French flag outside Wembley Stadium in London

The Belgian jihadist suspected of masterminding the Paris terror atrocities was reportedly killed when police stormed a flat in the north of the city, although French officials said bodies of those killed in the siege have not yet been identified.

Eight people were arrested after police swat teams raided the building in the Saint-Denis suburb early this morning.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said they did not include Abdelhamid Abaaoud, believed to be the ringleader of last Friday's massacres, or Salah Abdeslam, one of the suspected gunmen who is now the focus of an international manhunt.

But two European officials told the Washington Post Abaaoud had been killed during the seven-hour police operation.

Two people died, one of whom was a woman who blew herself up, but officials have not yet been able to identify the bodies due to their condition, Mr Molins said.

The raid was launched after a discarded mobile phone and tapped telephone conversations allowed investigators to identify a series of safe houses, with the suggestion that Abaaoud may have been holed up in a apartment less than a mile from the Stade de France, where one of the terror attacks took place.

Police fired about 5,000 rounds of ammunition during a pre-dawn exchange of gunfire that lasted about an hour as the terrorist cell barricaded themselves in the hideout.

Heavily armed police squads initially were thwarted by an armoured door and had to use assault guns, sniper rifles, grenades and explosives during the "extremely difficult" and "complex" operation.

Two bodies were found in the rubble of the building after an explosion, thought to have been caused when a woman detonated a suicide vest.

Mr Molins said: "At least one terrorist killed herself with an explosive. The floor of the flat collapsed and the state of the bodies and what is left of them will demand some more investigation."

He added: "I'm not in a position to give a precise and definitive number for the people who died, nor their identities, but there are at least two dead people

Two men were found inside the flat, one of whom was injured and arrested. The eight arrested included one woman and a man whose flat was used as a hideout by the terror cell and are being interrogated.

Mr Molins said: "The identities of the people who were arrested in this building are not absolutely certain but Abaaoud and Salah Abdeslam are not part of the people who have been arrested."

Several police officers were slightly injured during the raid and a police dog named Diesel was also killed.

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