Paris attacks

French police kill suspected terrorists in a stand-off this morning

Aoife Carr Wed, Nov 18
 
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  • 08:59

    It has been a dramatic morning in Paris. Two terrorists have been killed in a stand-off in the suburb of Saint Denis.


    The Paris prosecutor Francois Molins has confirmed that a woman blew herself up and five arrests have been made: three men who were inside the apartment and a man and a woman who were outside the apartment. The latter are believed to have lodged the jihadists.


    The operation began at 4.20 am. The woman blew herself at the very beginning of the operation, while another terrorist was killed by police snipers.



    Here is a summary of what we know  

  • 09:01
  • 09:05
    We will be covering developments as they happen. You can contact me on Twitter @aoifeic or on email acarr@irishtimes.com
  • 09:10
    A senior police official said he believed Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the “mastermind” of the November 13th attacks, was inside the apartment.  
  • 09:16
    Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man believed to be the “mastermind” of the November 13th attacks
    Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man believed to be the “mastermind” of the November 13th attacks
  • 09:16
  • 09:18
    This is what we know about Abaaoud  
  • 09:22

    Here is the latest from our Paris Correspondent Lara Marlowe:


    "Journalists in the nearby boulevard Felix Faure heard another loud explosion at 9.53 am. The operation continues.

    The man who was arrested outside the apartment had just told journalists he had lent it to "buddies".

    All schools in St Denis are closed for the day.

    Five policemen have been wounded, including 3 reported earlier.

    Police are advancing extremely slowly in the building because they fear it may be booby-trapped.

    This is the first time that armed soldiers wearing combat helmets and flak jackets have participated in such an operation. Until now, anti-terrorist operations were carried out by police and para-military gendarmes only.

    If Abdelhamid Abaaoud was or is in the apartment, the big question is how did he travel from Syria to France, when he has been the subject of an international arrest warrant since 2014.

    When Abaaoud was running a training camp in Deir ez-Zoor, Syria last summer, he asked a Frenchman, Reda Hame, to attack a concert hall in Paris."

     

  • 09:25
    A police dog sent in at the beginning of the raid has been killed.  
  • 09:28
  • 09:29
  • 09:43
    Kathy Sheridan asks how, even in their own depraved terms, can such young men ascribe any sense of bravery to attacking unarmed people?
  • 09:51

    Saint-Denis is on lockdown, says Ruadhan Mac Cormaic from the scene.


    "Shops and schools are closed, traffic has been diverted and hundreds of armed soldiers are on patrol. Normally bustling commercial streets are deserted. The atmosphere is tense. Just before 10am local time, shots could be heard coming from rue de la République, where the standoff is ongoing, followed by the sound of a helicopter overhead. Here on rue Péri, a few hundred yards from the scene, armed police continue to arrive in big numbers."

     

  • 09:53
  • 09:55

    The woman who blew herself up around 4.20 this morning was the first woman suicide bomber in France, writes Lara Marlowe.



    "Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the target of the operation, is known for having taken his 14 year-old brother Younes to Syria. The child has appeared in many Islamic State videos, armed with a Kalashnikov. In one video, he is shown shooting an American in the head.

    Abaaoud went to Syria in late 2013 and started at the lowest level in what has become IS, assigned to dispose of bodies. A video taken by a French journalist shows him dragging corpses behind a pick-up truck across the Syrian countryside, for burial in a mass grave.

    Abaaoud had a kind of charisma which led IS recruits to follow him. He rose quickly in the organisation.

    Abaaoud grew up in the Molenbeek quarter of Brussels with the Abdeslam brothers, Salah and Brahim, who were among the assailants last Friday night. Abaaoud was convicted of armed robbery with Salah in 2010 and they served time in prison together. Salah Abdeslam is still at large. Brahim died when he detonated his explosives vest in the Comptoir Voltaire bar on Friday night.

    The building where the jihadists were holed up is in the rue Corbillon. There are two gendarmerie helicopters overhead.

    The University of Paris 8, located in Saint Denis, has told students and staff not to come today."

  • 09:58
    A timeline of how events in Saint Denis unfolded this morning
  • 10:10
    A man is evacuated after being arrested by French policemen in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis this morning. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images   
    A man is evacuated after being arrested by French policemen in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis this morning. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images  
  • 10:11

    The latest from Lara Marlowe:


    Two more people have just been arrested at a second location in Saint Denis.

    Before he was arrested, the owner of the apartment in the rue Corbillon told journalists: "I was asked to do a favour. I did a favour. I don't know them at all."

  • 10:25
  • 10:37
    The scene at the moment in Saint-Denis. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images
    The scene at the moment in Saint-Denis. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images
  • 10:44
  • 10:48

    French police have confirmed that the seven hour assault in Saint Denis is over writes Lara Marlowe.


    "At 11.35 police confirmed that the seven-hour assault was over. This was reiterated by the government spokesman Sebastien Le Fol a few minutes later.
    Police continue to search the building with a fine tooth comb.
    Two people died in the apartment: the woman suicide bomber and the jihadist shot by police.
    The woman who blew herself up is believed to have been a relative of Abdelhamid Abaaoud who was sheltering him. Abaaoud is the IS recruiter and mastermind of the November 13 attacks. It is still not clear where Abaaoud is, or if he is dead or alive.
    The three men were arrested at 4.50 am. None were wounded, contrary to an earlier report.
    At 5 am, a police dog was sent into the building and was killed.
    The woman blew herself up, and the jihadist was shot dead, at 6 am.
    Two other people, including the owner of the apartment, were arrested outside the apartment.
    At 10.30 am the last two of seven people were arrested, in another apartment on another floor of the same building."

  • 10:55
  • 11:09
    Reuters are reporting that counter-intelligence and police sources have told them that one of the Paris suicide attackers may have had an accomplice with him as he travelled through the Balkans to western Europe after entering Greece posing as a Syrian refugee.
  • 11:17
  • 11:18
  • 11:22
    There are reports emerging that police have broken down the door of a church near the scene of this morning's raid in Saint Denis.
  • 11:23
  • 11:28
  • 11:30
    Ruadhan Mac Cormaic says French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has confirmed that two people are dead and seven arrested after this morning's raid.
  • 11:33
    The French government say all 129 victims of Friday's attacks have been identified.
  • 11:35
  • 11:39

    PA is reporting that French authorities are working to determine the fate of Abaaoud. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said police began the raid on Wednesday after gathering information that he could be in a safe house apartment in Saint-Denis.



    Mr Molins said the information was collected from tapped telephone conversations, surveillance and witness accounts. He told reporters in Saint-Denis after the operation was over that authorities are still working to determine who was inside.

  • 11:48

    This is the latest from our Paris correspondent Lara Marlowe:

    "Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins visited the scene of the police operation just after noon. Molins said police are checking the identities of the two dead and seven people arrested. Here is a transcript of their statements to media:

    Interior minister Cazeneuve: “The police of the BRI and Raid (units) have carried out operations intended to neutralise terrorists. Seven people were arrested. Two persons died, including a woman by explosives. I address my sincere congratulations to the policemen of the BRI and Raid, 110 in all, who intervened in such a brave way… They took fire for hours in conditions they had never encountered before.
    “I would also like to salute the sang-froid of the inhabitants of Saint-Denis and tell them that their following the instructions given to them by police contributed to the success of the operation. Of course we will continue the fight against terrorism.”


    Prosecutor Francois Molins:
    “I will express self more completely in press statement later. No one has yet entered the building, so the forensic work has not yet started. The assault took place in the framework of the judiciary investigation that was started on Friday night following the criminal terrorist attacks in Paris and St Denis.
    “Telephone surveillance and witnesses provided evidence that the person called (Abdelhamid) Abaaoud (the Belgian citizen who allegedly planned the November 13 attacks) could be in an apartment of conspirators in Saint-Denis….
    “Early in the operation, three people who were in the apartment were arrested. Later the young woman, who is being identified, blew herself up. Finally, there was the death of another terrorist who was found at the end of the operation, who was killed by bullets and grenades.
    “Two other people, found hiding in the wreckage, were arrested. They are the person who provided the lodging and one of his acquaintances. The identity of those arrested is being checked. Everything will be done to determine who is who. When the forensic police have reached their conclusions,we will tell you who was in the apartment and what it means for the investigation.”

  • 11:53
    French police entering the Eglise Neuve church in Saint Denis after they smashed the door as part of the operation in the city this morning. Photograph: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
    French police entering the Eglise Neuve church in Saint Denis after they smashed the door as part of the operation in the city this morning. Photograph: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
  • 11:54
  • 11:59

    The French presidency announced after a cabinet meeting today that all 129 bodies of the victims of the November 13th attacks have now been identified, writes Lara Marlowe.


    "As of today, the identity of all the victims' bodies have been determined, that is to say 129. More than 100 families have been able to view the remains of their loved ones at the police forensic institute," the cabinet meeting record said.

  • 11:59
  • 12:03
    We have more details about Diesel, the counter-terrorism police dog who was killed in this morning's raid here
  • 12:08
  • 12:14
  • 12:22

    Reuters are reporting that a terminal at Copenhagen airport has been evacuated. Termainal 3 has been closed after a suspicious bag was found. Flights departures have been moved to other terminals and the airport's metro station cannot be used.



  • 12:22
  • 12:23
  • 12:29
  • 12:31
    Britain has announced that one of the Royal Navy’s most advanced warships is to support a French aircraft carrier as it deploys to the Gulf to attack Islamic State.

    Portsmouth-based HMS Defender will provide air defence cover for the carrier Charles de Gaulle when it arrives to launch air attacks on the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.
  • 12:36
  • 12:40
    British prime minister David Cameron has insisted the question of how to dismantle Islamic State bases in Syria “cannot be dodged forever”.

    He has reiterated his determination to stage another Commons vote on extending RAF strikes from Iraq to Syria as he faced off with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs. “We cannot dodge forever the question of how to degrade Isil both in Iraq and in Syria,” he said.

    Mr Cameron also dismissed suggestions that the UK should only take military action if there was a UN security council resolution, saying he would not “outsource to Russian veto the decisions that we need to keep our country safe”.
  • 12:56
  • 13:00
  • 13:06
    The scene at Copenhagen airport where police and members of the bomb squad evacuated one of two terminals because of a suspicious bag. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
    The scene at Copenhagen airport where police and members of the bomb squad evacuated one of two terminals because of a suspicious bag. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
  • 13:06
  • 13:11

    French president Francois Hollande said France will not “cede to fear” and urged people to go back out to cafes and museums and live life to its fullest.

    He said “what would our country be without its cafes, concerts, sport events, museums?”

    Mr Hollande was speaking to mayors from around the country after the nation’s deadliest violence in decades last week. The French leader said “life must resume in full”, and promised extra security to ensure that museums can reopen and “our tourists can be welcomed”.

  • 13:13
    Meanwhile, in England, police were called to a school after a pupil posed with an AK-47 on Facebook in the wake of the Paris attacks. The smiling student, aged 13 or 14, is seen holding the machine gun with his finger on the trigger on his profile photo understood to have been taken while on a visit to Pakistan earlier this year. It was seen by teachers at Royton and Crompton School in Oldham, Greater Manchester on Monday after the boy overlaid the French flag on his profile image.
  • 13:24
  • 13:24
  • 13:28

    Francois Hollande has said any places where people are “glorifying” terrorism will be shut down.

    A bill to extend France’s state of emergency for three months includes a measure that enables authorities to close “any association or gathering” — which notably includes mosques and community groups — that would encourage people to carry out terrorist acts.

    The bill is to be debated by both houses of parliament on Thursday and Friday and is expected to be voted on by the end of the week.

  • 13:43
    An Islamic State militant was killed and 21 people were detained while trying to cross illegally the border from Syria to Turkey, the Turkish army said this afternoon.

    The incident took place in Turkey's Kilis province, a region where US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday said the United States and Turkey planned to start an operation to secure the northern Syrian border. Nine of those detained were children, the army said in a statement.
  • 13:43
    A terminal at Copenhagen airport has reopened after being evacuated earlier today over a suspicious package.
  • 13:44
  • 13:47

    We have updated the timeline from today's events in France.


    You can read how it all unfolded here

  • 13:50
  • 13:50
  • 13:56

    BREAKING: French authorities have sent out a bulletin to police across Europe asking them to watch out for a Citroen Xsara car that could be carrying Salah Abdeslam, the fugitive wanted in the
    Paris attacks, a Spanish security official said.

    Spain’s El Espanol digital publication first reported the bulletin on Wednesday, publishing a document with the car’s description and naming Abdeslam. It was sent by Spanish authorities to border control police in the north-eastern Catalonia region next to France. The security official confirmed the document was authentic but said the bulletin was sent to authorities across Europe and not only to Spain.

  • 14:26

    French gendarmes have asked the public to avoid revealing the location of road controls set up across the country as part of the state of emergency introduced after the bombings and shootings in
    Paris.

    In its Twitter appeal, the National Gendarmerie wrote: "#StateofEmergency Controls are taking place all over France. Do not signal the location of police forces."

  • 14:27
  • 14:28
  • 14:29
  • 14:37
    Members of the French parliament applaud security forces this afternoon after the raid in Saint Denis this morning. Photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images
    Members of the French parliament applaud security forces this afternoon after the raid in Saint Denis this morning. Photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images
  • 14:47
  • 14:47
  • 14:51
    Full news, analysis and coverage of developments continues on our special micro-site here