France Unsure if Raid Killed Top Suspect in Paris Attacks

Photo: NYT
ST.-DENIS, France — The assault began before dawn Wednesday at a decrepit squat in a close suburb of Paris when scores of French police officers stormed a third-floor apartment in search of their elusive quarry: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian suspected of organizing last week’s deadlyattacks in Paris by the Islamic State.

To get through a reinforced door, the police had to set explosives, giving the people inside time to prepare. A furious firefight ensued, with the police unleashing 5,000 rounds over the next hour and employing snipers and grenades. A female suicide bomber exploded her vest, collapsing the floor.

When it was all over, the police had swept eight people into custody and found at least two mangled bodies. Mr. Abaaoud had not been taken alive, the authorities said — and it was not clear whether one of the bodies was his.

“I am not able to give you the definitive number and identities of the people who were killed,” the Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said, adding that neither Mr. Abaaoud nor Salah Abdeslam, another suspect in the attacks who has been on the loose, was among those arrested.

The day of further violence left Paris on edge once again and much of the world transfixed as the manhunt for Mr. Abaaoud and his accomplices played out. Evening brought only uncertainty about whether the threat had been eradicated or whether Mr. Abaaoud, who has boasted of eluding capture, remained at large.

Another aspect of the case centered on the identity of the female suicide bomber, believed to be the first woman affiliated with the Islamic State to have blown herself up, other than those with Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group in Nigeria. Two French intelligence officials briefed on the investigation said she was believed to be a cousin of Mr. Abaaoud, Hasna Aitboulahcen, 26, who worked for a nearby company.

Mr. Molins suggested that the raid might have averted another terrorist attack, given the determination and organization shown by the group and the extent of its weaponry. “This commando group was ready to act,” he said.

The breakthrough appeared to have come with a tip on Monday night: Mr. Abbaoud, an Islamic State militant linked to a series of previous attacks, was not in Syria, as some intelligence officials had thought, or his native Belgium. If the tip was to be believed, he was in France.

The authorities pored over telephone and banking records, Mr. Molins said. One clue led to another, until the authorities concluded that it was likely that Mr. Abbaoud was holed up in St.-Denis, the suburb on the northern edge of Paris where the attacks began last Friday night at 9:20 p.m. with a suicide explosion at the nearby national soccer stadium.

At 4:20 a.m. Paris time on Wednesday, police assault teams stormed the three-story building on the Rue du Corbillon, which local officials and neighbors described as a drug-infested and dangerous street that has many squatters.

Backed by truckloads of soldiers, 110 officers from two special police units cordoned off an area near the Place Jean Jaurès, a main square in the medieval heart of the city.


More informations

Postar um comentário

Copyright © Restey - Séries, Filmes, Músicas, Livros e muito mais. Designed by OddThemes