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Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Suspected Mastermind Behind Paris Attacks Killed In Police Raid

Abdelhamid Abaaoud

Photo Credit: AP

PARIS (AP) — The Belgian jihadi suspected of masterminding deadly attacks in Paris died along with his cousin in a police raid on a suburban apartment building, officials said Thursday.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins’ office said 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud was identified based on skin samples, but authorities did not know how he died. His body was found in the apartment building targeted in the chaotic and bloody raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday.

Three police officials say a woman who died in the raid was Abaaoud’s cousin. One said Hasna Aitboulahcen is believed to have detonated a suicide vest after a brief conversation with police officers.

The official confirmed an audio recording, punctuated by gunshots, in which an officer asks: “Where is your boyfriend?” and she responded angrily: “He’s not my boyfriend!” Then loud bangs are heard.

The exact relationship between Abaaoud and Aitboulahcen was not clear.

The bodies recovered in the raid were badly mangled, with a part of Aitboulahcen’s spine landing on a police car, complicating formal identification, according to one of the officials.

The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to divulge details of the investigation.

Police launched the operation after receiving information from tapped phone calls, surveillance and tipoffs suggesting that Abaaoud was holed up there. Eight people were arrested in the raid.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says France did not know before last week’s deadly attacks that suspected mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud was in Europe.

Cazeneuve spoke Thursday, shortly after French authorities announced the Belgian jihadi, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed in a raid Wednesday in a suburb of Paris.

He said Abaaoud was believed to be behind four of six attacks thwarted by France since spring 2015.

With France still reeling from the Friday attacks that killed 129 people and wounded hundreds of others, Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned Thursday that Islamic extremists might at some point use chemical or biological weapons, and urged lawmakers to extend a national state of emergency by three months.

“Terrorism hit France not because of what it is doing in Iraq and Syria … but for what it is,” Valls told the lower house of Parliament. He added, “We know that there could also be a risk of chemical or biological weapons.”

Valls did not say there was a specific threat involving such weapons. Elsewhere in Europe, jittery leaders and law enforcement moved to protect their populations as Rob Wainwright, director of the European Union’s police coordination organization Europol, warned of “a very serious escalation” of the terror threat in Europe.

Read more at Huffington Post

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