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Paris terror 'commander' confirmed dead in raid

The Local · 19 Nov 2015, 14:06

Published: 19 Nov 2015 14:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Nov 2015 14:06 GMT+01:00

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French prosecutors have confirmed that the man suspected of being the commander of the Paris terror attacks was indeed killed in Wednesday's shootout in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis, as suspected.

Handprint analysis was used to identify the Belgian's body, which was found among the rubble of the shattered building after officers rained fire and grenades on the jihadists in a seven-hour siege.

"Abdelhamid Abaaoud has just been formally identified as having been killed during the raid," the prosecutor said in a statement.

"This is the body found in the building, riddled with bullets," the statement continued.

Speaking after Abaaoud's death had been confirmed France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Abaaoud had playeda "controlling role" in the Paris terror attacks of November 13th.

Cazeneuve also said that Abaaoud was implicated in four out six terror plots that have been foiled in France since Spring this year.

There had been confusion about the fate of Abaaoud after the seven hour raid.

READ MORE Abaaoud - The man whose own family wanted him dead


French intelligence services were tipped off that the 28-year-old of Belgian Moroccan origin, who was linked to numerous terror attacks around Europe, was hiding out in Saint Denis.

At least two bodies were found in the apartment in Saint-Denis after a seven-hour shootout and siege with elite police units.

A woman in the apartment detonated her suicide vest and a body was found so riddled with bullets that made it difficult to identify, the prosecutor had earlier said.

On Wednesday night fears grew that he might have escaped, when the prosecutor confirmed that he was not among the eight arrested in the raid, 

But confirmation came on Thursday that Abaaoud was the second terrorist who died during the raid.

Story continues below…

Prosecutor Francois Molins said Wednesday that the raid in Saint-Denis had stopped a "new team of terrorists" who were ready to launch another attack in a city still mourning 129 dead.

However there is still confusion about how exactly Abaaoud died. Prosecutors describe his body as "riddled with bullets", but in a second statement, they added that "we don't know at this point whether Abaaoud blew himself up".

Speaking to parliament French Prime Minister Manuels Valls welcomed the news that Abaaoud had been neutralised.

"We salute the work of the intelligence services and the police," said Valls, to warm applause from MPs in the chamber.

Abaaoud -- who hailed from Molenbeek, a grimy Brussels district dubbed an extremist "hotbed" -- was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison in July for running a network to recruit jihadists to Syria.
It had been presumed he was still in Syria but then it became clear to investigators he had somehow managed to return to France.
On Monday French authorities were tipped off that he was hiding out in the squat in a block of flats in Saint-Denis.
Police launched surveillance and phone taps that confirmed he was indeed back in France.
His body took longer to identify because part of the building collapsed when the female suicide bomber, believed to be Abaaoud's cousin detonated her vest.
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