A woman wearing an explosive suicide vest blew herself up as French commandos raided an apartment in Saint-Denis as part of the hunt for Paris terror attacks suspects, including alleged mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Two are dead and seven were arrested.
French authorities declared the raid over, but the fate of the mastermind wasn’t clear, The Associated Press said.
CNN said the raid happened at the right time because the suspects were “about to move on some kind of operation.”
Suspect Salah Abdeslam and a man believed to be the “ninth attacker” were also targets of the raid. One or all of the Paris attacks suspects were thought to be inside the apartment building, The Guardian reported.
France’s Le Monde newspaper, citing a police source, reported earlier that “two men targeted by the onslaught of RAID in Saint-Denis, still ongoing, have been killed.”
RAID is the French paramilitary police unit, and masked commandos and later Army units, which had 100 men and three trucks, could be seen on social-media and TV images from Saint-Denis.
The raid also could have claimed a third fatality, though police were unsure of that, Le Monde reported.
Agence France-Presse said one of the fatalities was a female suicide bomber. The wire service also reported an unspecified second death.
The hours-long standoff, which featured a series of at least four explosions, is taking place about a mile from the soccer stadium that was targeted in one of last week’s attacks.
“No final assessment is possible as long as the operation continues,” the source cautioned Le Monde. “Men are still holed up in an apartment referred by the police, say police and judicial sources.”
Mr. Abdeslam, 26, is believed to have been one of the shooters who strafed a number of targets in Paris on Friday night.
Other media reports said French police also were wounded.
“Police officers are injured,” reported FranceInfo, a 24-hour all-news radio channel operated by the French public service radio broadcaster Radio France.
The Guardian reported three wounded police, though it said none were serious.
Police would not confirm officially any of those reports early Wednesday.
“It has not stopped since 4:30 a.m.,” Didier Paillard, mayor of Saint-Denis, said about the gunfire, which he added had stopped public transportation and blockaded the neighborhood. Schools were closed and residents of Saint-Denis were ordered to stay inside and away from windows.
Saint-Denis is a northern suburb of Paris that has a large Muslim population and hosts France’s national soccer stadium, which was one of the sites hit by gun-wielding suicide bombers on Friday. One person was killed and 30 wounded in that attack.