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3rd Mar 2024

Anti-terror raid in Paris region

  • Police raid started at 4.30, targeting mastermind of Friday's attacks. (Photo: Reuters)

A major police operation took place on Wednesday morning (18 November) in Saint-Denis, near Paris. At least six suspected terrorists were targeted, including Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who is considered to be the mastermind of Friday's terror attacks, which killed 129 people.

Two suspected terrorists were killed and seven were arrested, the Paris prosecutor said. One of the dead was a woman wearing an explosive belt.

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Saint-Denis, the biggest town of the Paris region, hosts the Stade de France, where three suicide bombers exploded their devices on Friday, killing one person.

Many gunshots and explosions were heard, and a large area was closed, with people prevented from leaving their homes. Police officers were reported injured.

"This raid is linked to Friday's attacks," justice minister Christiane Taubira said on the radio.

The raid was launched at 4.30am and ended around 11.30 after investigators found a phone used by attackers of the Bataclan concert hall where 89 people were killed.

They also found a car in Paris that was hired in Belgium by Salah Abdeslam, who is considered as the "eighth man" of Friday's commandos.


Abdeslam is suspected of driving the car from which restaurants and bars were attacked in three different places, killing 34 people. One of his brothers died when he triggered his explosive belt in a bar, injuring one.

On Tuesday, investigator also said the commandos probably included a ninth man, who is still to be identified. Only five of the terrorists have been identified so far.

The voice of a French convert was identified in a video claiming responsibility for the attacks. He had threatened the Bataclan in 2009.

Threats

The raid in Saint-Denis took place while terror fears remain high in Europe.

In Hannover, a football match between Germany and Netherlands was cancelled on Wednesday one hour before kick-off and the stadium was evacuated because of what authorities said was a "concrete threat".

Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with German and Dutch ministers, were expected to attend the match, which had been organised at the last minute as an homage to victims of Paris attacks.

According to German media, a foreign intelligence service, probably French intelligence, warned of plans involving automatic weapons and suicide bombers.

The Spiegel Online also reported a false alarm at Hannover station, where a man was said to have left a bag in a train.

Another match, Belgium-Spain, had been cancelled in Brussels the day before, because of the high threat level, a few kilometers away from Molenbeek where police launched raids on several suspected Islamist radicals.

Fears were high in the skies too. Two Air France flights bound to Paris were diverted during the night over bomb threats.

The first plane was flying from Los Angeles and landed in Salt Lake City. The second one from Washington and landed in Halifax.

Both flights had been the "subjects of anonymous threats received after their respective take-offs," Air France said in a statement.

This article was updated at 12.30 after the end of the police raid

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