Gunshots rattle Paris suburb, police raid targets suspected attack mastermind
Updated: 2015-11-18 19:42
Members of French special police forces of Research and Intervention Brigade (BRI) arrive at the scene as shots are exchanged in Saint-Denis, near Paris, France, November 18, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]
French prosecutors have identified five of the seven dead assailants from Friday - four Frenchmen and a man who was fingerprinted in Greece last month after arriving in the country via Turkey with a boatload of refugees fleeing the Syria war.
Police believe two men directly involved in the assault subsequently escaped, including Salah Abdeslam, 26, a Belgian-based Frenchman who is believed to have played a central role in both planning and executing the deadly mission.
Until Wednesday morning, officials had said Abaaoud was in Syria. He grew up in Brussels, but media said he moved to Syria in 2014 to fight with Islamic State. Since then he has travelled back to Europe at least once and was involved in a series of planned attacks in Belgium foiled by the police last January.
A man in St. Denis told reporters that he had rented out the besieged apartment to two people last week. "A friend asked me to take in two of his mates for a few days ... I didn't know them," the unidentified man told BFMTV.
"I was asked for help. I gave them help. I didn't know they were terrorists."
Late on Tuesday, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said two Paris-bound Air France flights were diverted following anonymous bomb threats, and hundreds of passengers and crew were safely removed.
Authorities in the United States and Canada, where the planes landed, later said both aircraft had been searched and were safe.
Paris and Moscow are not coordinating their air strikes, but French President Francois Hollande is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Nov. 26 to discuss how their countries' militaries might work together.
Hollande is due to meet US President Barack Obama in Washington on Nov. 24 also to push for a concerted drive against Islamic State, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.