Three terrorists and a civilian passer-by caught in the crossfire were killed and seven people were taken into custody in a police standoff that stretched from night until morning in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.
The five-hour-plus raid on two apartments located on the same street was a major operation reportedly targeting Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind behind Friday’s coordinated attacks on a concert hall, soccer stadium and restaurants.
But French officials said they busted up a cell that was ready to launch follow-up attacks in Paris.
A woman blew herself up at the beginning of the raid, French media reported, citing police sources. Another woman was among those arrested, reportedly accompanying the landlord of a targeted apartment.
A 7-year-old Belgian Malinois SWAT team dog named Diesel was killed by the terrorists, police said. Three police officers were injured though not believed to be seriously hurt, CNN reported.
The police action came soon after authorities announced that they were after another suspect revealed by video of a car carrying terrorists who shot up bars and eateries. French officials told reporters they were led to the cell through contacts on attackers’ cell phones that had been recovered.
There was no immediate word on whether Abaaoud was in one of the raided apartments. Wanted 26-year-old Belgian Salah Abdeslam, the brother of another one of the attackers, wasn’t believed to be targeted or seized in the raid.
But the French prosecutor cautioned reporters it’s “impossible to give you the identity of the people at the moment” who were killed or arrested, or come to conclusions about the results of the raid.
If Abaaoud was in France all this time, that would mark another security failure: he was believed to be in Syria. In the February issue of ISIS’ Dabiq magazine, Abaaoud claimed he was “able to leave and come to Shām (Syria) despite being chased after by so many intelligence agencies.”
“My name and picture were all over the news yet I was able to stay in their homeland, plan operations against them, and leave safely when doing so became necessary,” he said.
French President Francois Hollande is coming to Washington next Tuesday for meetings with President Obama.
The two “will consult and coordinate our efforts to assist France’s investigation into these attacks, discuss further cooperation as part of the 65-member counter-ISIL coalition, and reiterate our shared determination to confront the scourge of terrorism,” according to press secretary Josh Earnest.
This story was updated at 6:30 a.m. EST