Paris attacks: At least 2 dead, 7 arrested during Saint-Denis raid

Terror Cell Was Ready to Act Again, Paris Prosecutor Says
Terror Cell Was Ready to Act Again, Paris Prosecutor Says


SAINT-DENIS, France — French police hunting the suspected ringleader behind the Paris massacre wiped out another cell Wednesday that they believe was about to launch another bloody attack in the City of Lights.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins made the announcement after an elite police unit pursuing Belgian jihadi Abdelhamid Abaaoud raided an apartment in the suburb of Saint-Denis and was met with fierce resistance.

"One woman blew up herself," Molins said, adding that another man was killed in the raid and several more were wounded. He said police fired some 5,000 rounds.

Abaaoud was not among those taken into custody, he said. NBC News could not immediately confirm a report in The Washington Post saying Abaaoud had been killed in the raid.

Images from the raids:

Molins gave no details on what other mayhem the terrorists were planning.

Also killed was a a police dog named Diesel, police said earlier.

The still-unidentified woman detonated a suicide vest as the building was stormed, the Paris Prosecutor's Office said after the seven-hour raid was over.

They were looking for Abaaoud, a Belgian jihadi thought to have played a key role in last Friday's assaults that killed 129 people.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told the French national assembly that it was possible there was a third body from the raid, and that investigations - "including DNA analysis" - were still underway.

"It's possible that Abdelhamid Abaaoud was in the apartment this morning," Cazeneuve's spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet told local media.

Heavy gunfire was heard for several hours beginning around 4:30 a.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET Tuesday) in the northern district of Saint-Denis. Seven others were arrested during the operation.

Five police officers and a passerby were injured during the incident.

2 Dead, 7 Arrested After Paris Raid Targets Key Terror Suspect
2 Dead, 7 Arrested After Paris Raid Targets Key Terror Suspect

Veronique Haounoh, 43, was holed-up in an apartment across the street from the operation with several neighbors and heard "explosions at irregular intervals."

"We heard so many booms," she told NBC News. "I'm shaking. We are very scared, I can't stop crying."

Witness Abdel Nour al Jazaeri, an unemployed Algerian immigrant, told NBC News that he saw police raiding a building and heard intense gunfire beginning at 4:30 a.m.

A local resident who lives nearby said that he heard "lots of shots" between 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. local time.

"I was sleeping," said the man, who identified himself only as Alexandre. "I heard the noise — the shots. I said, 'That's not fireworks'."

Some people who lived nearby were rousted from their beds by police and rushed out of their homes clad in just their underwear or pajamas.

Saint-Denis is a mostly low-income area that's close to the Stade de France, a 81,000-seat venue which was targeted by three suicide bombers during a game involving the national team and Germany on Friday.

PHOTOS: Police Target Paris Attack Suspects in Saint-Denis Raid

Police said they were following the female suspect, who was believed to have a connection to the terrorists. The subsequent operation involved 110 officers from France's elite RAID unit.

Local resident Jawad Ben Dow told Reuters that the standoff was centered on his apartment.

Saint-Denis Resident Says Police Targets Were in His Apartment
Saint-Denis Resident Says Police Targets Were in His Apartment

He added: "Someone asked me to put two people up for three days and I did them a favor, it's normal. I don't know where they came from I don't know anything. If I'd known do you think I'd have done it?"

Mathieu Hanotin, a local lawmaker, described the operation as a "big victory."

When asked if he thought the suspects at the apartment were planning another attack, Hanotin said that remained unclear but added their weapons showed "they were ready."

Authorities have been searching for two more suspects believed to have directly participated in Friday's series of bombings and shootings. Seven attackers were killed, most in suicide bombings, officials said.

Police had already been looking for known accomplice Salah Abdeslam, 26. French officials told The Associated Press that an analysis of the attacks indicated one additional person directly involved in the onslaught remains unaccounted for.

Meanwhile, the Parisian newspaper L'Express reported that a 52-year-old man named Stéphane Hache was killed by a stray bullet. He lived behind the Le Bataclan concert hall where the terrorists staged a massacre.

Earlier, two Air France passenger jets leaving from the U.S. for Paris were diverted on Tuesday after bomb threats were phoned in, the airline said.

Both planes landed safely — a flight from the Washington, D.C., area in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a plane from Los Angeles in Salt Lake City, Utah, officials said.

Also Tuesday, a soccer stadium in Germany packed with thousands of fans was abruptly evacuated because of a "potential threat to spectators," police said.