A seven-hour siege by police at an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis ended Wednesday with the arrest of seven people with suspected links to the Paris attacks. Two other suspects, including a female suicide bomber who detonated explosives as police entered the apartment, were killed.
The area was still being secured amid reports police had entered a church. Few details were available and the number of deaths and arrests could rise.
The raid was targeting the suspected mastermind of the attacks that killed at least 129 people. But it was not clear whether Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, a Belgian national, was in the apartment in Saint-Denis at the time or what his link to the operation was.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said phone data and eyewitness statements led police to the apartment as part of the manhunt for Abaaoud.
Earlier, periodic gunfire and explosions could be heard in the area, which is in a northern part of Paris, about 5 to 6 miles from the city center, and close to the Stade de France stadium, where three suicide bombers blew themselves up Friday.
Jawad Ben Dow, a man identified by French broadcaster BFMTV as the owner of an apartment on the street where the raid took place, said he let some of the suspects take refuge in his home. “I didn’t know they were terrorists,” he said. “Someone asked me to put two people up for three days and I did them a favor,” he said.
Dow was subsequently arrested.
In an address to French mayors in Paris, President Francois Hollande said that the Islamic State — the militant group that claimed responsibility for Friday’s attacks— was a grave threat to the entire world and that a large coalition needed to be built to counter its activities.
Read more: wtsp.com