UPDATED: Nov. 18, 2015 5:54 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A woman wearing an explosive suicide vest blew herself up and another person was killed as heavily armed police stormed a suburban Paris apartment where the suspected mastermind of last week’s attacks on the French capital was believed to be holed up, police said Wednesday.

French Prosecutor Francois Molins said Wednesday a total of eight people were arrested in two separate police operations in Saint-Denis. He said the terrorist cell targeted there was “neutralized.”

The main raid began in the early hours of the morning and went on for about seven hours. Three suspects were taken into custody inside the building and four others outside.

A senior police official tells CBS News he believed Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant believed to have planned the gruesome attack last week, was inside the apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis with five other heavily armed people.

Abaaoud, a well-known ISIS operative suspected of planning several attacks inside Europe, was previously believed to have been in Syria. Authorities could not immediately confirm whether Abaaoud was killed or arrested Wednesday morning.

Overnight raids by French police across France resulted in 25 arrests and the seizure of 34 weapons. The new tally was announced Wednesday by the Interior Ministry. In all, French police have carried out 414 raids and made 60 arrests while seizing 75 weapons since Friday. The captured armory includes 11 military-style firearms, 33 rifles and 31 handguns. In addition to dozens of arrests, 118 more people have been placed under house arrest in another of the new powers permitted under France’s state of emergency.

The identities of the those killed and arrested in the Saint-Denis raids have not been released. Molins would only confirm that Abaaoud and the other suspected terrorist still at large, Salah Abdeslam, were not among those taken into custody. Speaking after the raid, French officials confirmed a second suspect, a man, was found dead inside the apartment with gun and grenade wounds.

Media reports suggested as many as five police officers sustained injuries in the raid, and an officer in full tactical gear was seen leaving the apartment building with the help of colleagues, but he did not appear to be seriously hurt. A police SWAT team dog named Diesel was killed during the raid.

Police led a handcuffed man, nude from the waist down, out of the building in handcuffs hours after the raid began.

No hostages were being held, and with officials declaring the operation over at about 11:30 a.m. local time, it appeared no further suspects were still holed-up in the building.

Residents said a first explosion shook the neighborhood at about 4 a.m. local time (10 p.m. Eastern).

Sporadic bangs and explosions continued, and at 6:30 a.m. at least seven explosions shook the center of Saint-Denis. Associated Press reporters at the scene could hear what sounded like grenade blasts from the direction of the standoff.

Investigators have identified 27-year-old Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan descent, as the chief architect of Friday’s attacks in Paris.

On Friday, several terrorists attacked sites throughout Paris, including a stadium, a crowded concert venue and two restaurants. At least 129 people were killed and hundreds more were injured.

Seven terrorists died in the attacks, including:

Frenchman Ismael Omar Mostefai, who is believed to have led attackers into the Bataclan concert hall,

Frenchman Samy Amimour, who also terrorized the Bataclan,

Belgian Bilal Hadfi, a Stade de France suicide bomber,

Syrian-born Ahmad Almohammad, also a Stade de France suicide bomber, and Ibrahim Abdeslam, a French citizen who detonated a vest outside of a cafe.

Two of the suspected attackers have not yet been identified, though authorities believe one was an 18-year-old Belgian who also attacked the Bataclan and the other was a third stadium suicide bomber.

A manhunt is ongoing for Ibrahim Abdeslam’s brother, Belgium-born Salah Abdeslam, who has been named a key suspect in the attacks, and a second unnamed fugitive who authorities say was also directly involved in the attacks.

Follow WNEW on Twitter

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


Leave a Reply