Paris: A raid carried out before dawn on a Paris flat on Wednesday reportedly killed the mastermind behind the deadly Paris attacks that left almost 130 dead.
An apartment building in the suburban Saint-Denis, which houses many immigrants, was stormed by around a 100 police officers at 4:30 AM, said officials. Seven explosions and gunfire was heard during the seven hour siege, the focus of which is believed to have been Abaaoud himself.
Two senior intelligence officials confirmed the death of Abaaoud in the raid.
However, due to the “state of the bodies”, the identities havn’t been confirmed yet, said Francois Molins, the French prosecutor overseeing the investigations.
“I am not able to give you precise information about the identitiy of the people who have died,” he said at a press conference.
Reportedly, the detonation of an explosive belt by a female suicide bomber killed two. The dead are suspected to have been Abaaoud and Salah Abdeslam.
Five policemen were injured in the raid, following which, four men and one woman were arrested.
Security services from France and Belgium had stated previously that Abaaoud was in Syria or some territory controlled by ISIS. So, the reported location of the ISIS militant’s death will not bode well for them.
Born in Belgium, Abaaoud grew up in Molenbeek, a suburb in Brussels which has recently become a focus area for investigators.
Abaaoud, who is thought to be 27, became involved in petty crime quite early even though he studied at a Catholic school. His family was shocked when he went to Syria in January 2014, taking along his 13-year-old brother Younes.
“They did not even go to the mosque,” Yasmina, older sister to the brothers, earlier this year told the New York Times. Like so many more who have gone to the ‘Islamic State’, Abaaoud’s actions also seem to have been motivated not by religion, but by a thirst for violence, power and unaccountability.
Abaaoud returned to Europe via Athens, after he was further radicalized and trained in Syria. A few months before the attack, he claimed in an interview to ISIS-propaganda magazine Dabiq, that he had been detained by a Belgium police officer. However, he was let go as the officer failed to recognize him. It was because of this interview that officials believed he was in Syria.
A previous foiled attack in a high speed Paris-bound train, and others in Europe have been linked to Abaaoud.