Paris attacks 'mastermind' Abaaoud fate unknown - Molins

BY: BBC
Masked French judicial police could be seen in the area

The Paris prosecutor has said the fate of the suspected organiser of Friday's attacks remains unknown after a police raid on a flat ended in bloodshed.

Francois Molins told reporters Abdelhamid Abaaoud was not among eight people arrested during the raid in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis.

 

However, human remains found in the rubble of the flat had still to be identified, he said.

A woman blew herself up and another suspect was shot dead during the raid.

Abaaoud is said to have organised Friday's gun and bomb attacks in Paris, when 129 people were killed.

All of the victims of the attacks - which targeted a concert hall, cafes and the Stade de France stadium and were claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS) group - have now been identified, the government says.

Mr Molins said the police operation in Saint Denis had foiled a new attack, stopping a "new terrorist cell" which appeared to be ready to strike.

"At this time, 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," he added.

Details he gave of the operation in Saint Denis paint a picture of a ferocious battle

Police used 5,000 rounds of ammunition

The main building targeted was hit so hard it is now at risk of collapse

A body was found "riddled with impacts", which made it impossible to identify for now

Seven men and one woman were arrested

However, Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national identified as a suspect in Friday's attacks, was not among them, he said - nor was Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

Also on Wednesday, a teacher at a Jewish school in the southern city of Marseille was stabbed by three men. Local police say his life is not in danger and that police are hunting the assailants. 

04:20 (03:20 GMT) Shots ring out in the Rue du Corbillon, a few minutes' walk from the town hall of this rundown suburb of Paris, as anti-terrorist police raid a third-floor flat

07:03 Shooting continues intermittently - at least one person killed inside the flat and two police officers injured

07:20 Multiple explosions and intense gunfire heard

07:40 Local residents urged to stay indoors by the authorities

07:56 Police sources report two deaths in the flat, including that of a woman who set off a bomb belt, and three more injured officers

09:17 Prosecutors announce the arrest of three men inside the flat, and a man and a woman nearby

11:26 Police announce end of operation

19:10 Paris prosecutor confirms arrests and says evidence suggests a new terrorist plot was foiled

Five members of the RAID police anti-terrorism unit were lightly injured in the Saint-Denis operation while a RAID "assault dog", a seven-year-old Belgian Shepherd called Diesel, was killed.

More than 400 people were wounded in Friday's attacks, of whom 195 are still in hospital, 41 of them in intensive care. Three of them are in a life-threatening condition.

IS said it had carried out the attacks in response to France's air campaign against its leadership in Syria, and pledged further bloodshed.

French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday that IS threatened the whole world and he would be seeking a "large coalition" to work together to defeat the militant group.