Early Wednesday morning, French police entered the neighborhood of Saint-Denis in Paris to arrest the suspected mastermind of the murderous Islamic State assault on the French capital last Friday.
Police acted on intelligence indicating that Belgian citizen Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was previously believed to be located in Syria and is suspected of organizing the attacks in Paris, was in an apartment in Saint-Denis together with five other members of Islamic State.
When police arrived at the apartment building, the heavily armed Islamic State gang opened fire and detonated a suicide belt. In the ensuing shootout that lasted for several hours, two suspects–including a female member of the gang–were killed, and nine others were injured.
The woman was killed when she detonated the suicide belt, and the other ISIS terrorist was reportedly killed by a police sniper. Several explosions were heard in the neighborhood, most likely from hand grenades that were used during the raid. Four police officers were wounded, and one police canine died during the action.
After the completion of the raid, eyewitnesses reported that police units were knocking down an entrance door of a nearby church. It is still unclear why police entered the church.
President Francois Hollande of France addressed the police action during a meeting with French mayors.
“A particularly perilous and heavy police operation has just ended, police knew the dangers, yet no doubt still underestimated the violence that they would come up against,” Hollande said.
He added that “France is at war” and that “the entire country has been attacked due to its values and the fight it is undertaking to eradicate terrorism. These terrorists want to kill the very idea of what France stands for.”
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.