Fate of Paris mastermind remains unknown

The fate of the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, remains unknown, despite officials having earlier said he was killed in a massive police raid in a suburb of the city that left at least two dead, including a female suicide bomber.

According to AFP, intelligence led investigators to believe the Belgian suspect was in an apartment in Saint-Denis to the north of Paris, triggering a ferocious seven-hour shootout there with police that began before dawn.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the raid had thwarted a "team of terrorists that… could have struck".

At least two people were killed — a woman thought to have blown herself up with a suicide vest and another body that was found riddled with bullets, the prosecutor said.

Police rained more than 5,000 rounds of ammunition on the building after terrified residents living in the area near the Stade de France stadium were evacuated.

At least two bodies were found in the badly damaged building after the shootout, but their state was complicating efforts to identify them, Molins told a press conference, and therefore it was uncertain whether Abaaoud was indeed present at the site of the raid.

The body that had sustained a number of gunshots was "not in a state that allows it to be identified", he said, according to AFP.

Due to the severe damage to the building, it was impossible to know how many died and who they were, the prosecutor 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," he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, two senior intelligence officials revealed that Abaaoud was killed in the raid in north Paris.

The officials made the revelation to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity.

Eight people were arrested, including two found in the rubble of the building, according to the AFP report. Salah Abdeslam, 26, suspected of taking part in the attacks in Paris with his suicide-bomber brother Brahim, was also not among those held, the prosecutor said.

Abaaoud is a 28-year-old Islamic State fighter who was previously thought to be in Syria after fleeing raids in his native Belgium earlier this year.

He is believed to have planned a number of attacks and is thought to have masterminded the gun and bomb assaults on bars and restaurants, outside the

Stade de France and at the Bataclan concert hall that left 129 dead on Friday.

A key piece of the evidence in the investigation had been a mobile phone found in a bin near the Bataclan, where 89 people were killed in the worst of the bloody series of attacks.

AFP contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/203612

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