November 21, 2019

Suspected Paris attacks mastermind not identified in raid at this time, French prosecutor says

French investigators cannot yet identify those killed in a police raid on Wednesday but the suspected mastermind of the attacks in Paris was not among those arrested in the operation, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.

The raid was staged after receiving a tip on Monday that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who is accused of having played a central role in both planning and executing the attacks on Paris last Friday that killed 129 people, was in France, he said.

He was until then believed to be in Syria.

“I am not able to give you a definite number and the identities of the dead but there are at least two dead,” Molins said at a news conference.

“I can say that Abaaoud and Salah Abdeslam are not among those taken into detention,” he said, referring to the suspected mastermind and a suspected attacker who escaped to Belgium by car early on Saturday morning.

“A body riddled with impacts was found in the debris of the building. The state of the body has not permitted, at this stage, to identify it,” he added. A woman blew herself up with a suicide vest.

Police fired 5,000 rounds during the early morning siege on the third-floor apartment, leaving the building at risk of collapsing in certain places and slowing down the investigation, Molins said.

He said investigators could not identify three men detained in the raid on an apartment in the St. Denis area north of Paris. Overall seven men and a woman were arrested at the apartment or nearby.

This story originally stated that the suspected architect of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, is dead, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing two intelligence officials.

The Post did not provide details, including the intelligence officials' nationalities, and Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.