A huge and violent police operation in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris is over. At least two people are dead and seven people were arrested.
According to François Molins, chief prosecutor of France, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who police believe orchestrated the attacks on Paris, may have been in one of the apartments targeted by the raid.
Molins said one woman died after detonating a suicide vest and another “terrorist” was killed during the confrontation with police. None of the dead, Molins said, have been positively identified.
In a speech to French mayors, President François Hollande said the operation was intended to “neutralize terrorists” with connection to the attacks of last week.
“These acts show once again that we are at war,” Hollande said. “At war against terrorism, terrorism, which declared war on us.”
The operation started at around 4 a.m. Paris time, when explosions and gunfire could be heard near two apartments in Saint-Denis.
“They were shooting for an hour. Nonstop. There were grenades. It was going, stopping. Kalashnikovs. Starting again,” Amine Guizani, who witnessed the raid, told French media.
The mayor of Saint-Denis said public transport was closed and schools in the center of town would not hold classes on Wednesday.
As we’ve been reporting, authorities across Europe have been on the hunt for two suspects they believe were directly involved the series of terrorist attacks that left 129 people dead.
There’s no word yet on whether either of those suspects were apprehended.
We’ll update this post as we receive information, so make sure to refresh this page for the latest.
In their most extensive statement since the attacks on Friday, the band Eagles of Death Metal say they are home safe.
“We are horrified and still trying to come to terms with what happened in France,” the band said.
The band was playing a show at the Bataclan Theater when gunmen opened fire. When it was all done, 89 people were killed.
The band said that they have put all their scheduled shows on hold. They closed with: “Vive la musique, vive la liberté, vive la France, and vive [Eagles of Death Metal.”
In a statement, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that since France instituted a state of emergency, authorities had conducted 414 searches, arrested 64 people and confined 118 people to their homes.
NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reports that French authorities have been very worried about a follow-on attack.
“They had credible evidence that something was in the offing,” she reports. But it is unclear if this operation eases some of those concerns.
French national police say that a seven-year-old Belgian Malinois named Diesel was killed during the raid in Saint-Denis.
They tweeted this photo:
NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports that she just saw a series of police officers in tactical gear pull out of Saint-Denis. Ten of the vehicles were filled with masked men.
“It was a stunning show of force,” Eleanor reports.
But, she said, it made clear that the operation that had started in the early morning hours had ended.
In a speech to the country’s mayors, French President François Hollande described today’s operation as intended to “neutralize terrorists” with connection to the attacks of last week.
“These acts show once again that we are at war — at war against terrorism, terrorism, which declared war on us,” Hollande said.
The French president again blamed the Islamic State for the attacks, saying they have proven to have an army, financial support, territory as well as allies “in Europe, including in our country with young, radicalized people.”
Update at 6:37 a.m. ET. More On Abaaoud:
As NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has some background on Abdelhamid Abaaoud the alleged mastermind behind the Paris attacks:
He is a Belgian national in his late 20s who is believed to be close to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
Counter-terrorism officials say he may be the link between the group’s senior leaders and operatives in Europe. He is the suspect behind a terror cell police broke up in eastern Belgium in January and he’s linked to the foiled attack aboard a Thalys train headed to Paris last August.