Police and French officials launched the raids in Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris, at 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday in an operation police and judicial sources said was targeting suspected Paris attacks mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud. The operation could be heard from miles away as the early morning quiet was disrupted by explosions and gunfire could be heard at an apartment complex.
It was thought that he and several other suspects were holed up inside an apartment building in the neighborhood. A helicopter was flying overhead and police have cordoned off the area nearby. A female suspect wearing a bomb vest blew herself up during the raid, police said.
French investigators said Tuesday that they were looking for a second suspect in the attacks after video footage confirmed that there were three men in a car used during the shootings at bars and restaurants in the city.
Roads were blocked off around Rue de la Republique in Saint Denis, in the same district as the Stade de France where suicide attackers detonated bombs on Friday.
France conducted air strikes against Islamic State group targets in the Syrian city of Raqqa for the third night in a row.
Prosecutors have identified five of the seven dead assailants involved in the attacks, while a search is under way but they did not capture 26-year-old Belgian Salah Abdeslam.
According to François Molins, chief prosecutor of France, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who police believe orchestrated the attacks on Paris, may have been in the apartment targeted by the raid.
Molins said one woman died after detonating a suicide vest and another “terrorist” was killed during the confrontation with police. None of the dead, Molins said, have been positively identified.
Meanwhile, French President François Hollande will be in Washington, D.C. with President Barack Obama on November 24th and then he will travel to Moscow for another meeting. On November 26th the French president will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss cooperation in the fight against ISIS.