2 terrorists and a civilian reportedly killed amid police raid in Saint-Denis, France

Latest developments:

2:16 a.m. ET: Two terrorists were killed in the raid and one is still holed up in a building alive, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported. One of the terrorists was shot by a police sniper, and the second was a woman who blew herself up with a suicide vest, the broadcaster reported. A civilian passerby was killed during the operation and at least three police were wounded in the raid, it said.

2:08 a.m. ET: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks, is one of the potential targets of the operation, a senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN. The official cautioned that French and Belgian authorities weren’t certain that Abaaoud was at the location when they launched the raid in search of high priority targets.

PARIS (AP) – The latest on the deadly attacks in Paris. (All times local):

7:55 a.m.

A senior French police official says a large police operation north of Paris is targeting the suspected mastermind of last week’s attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

The official says authorities believe Abaaoud is holed up in an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, along with up to five other heavily armed people.

The official, who was not authorized to be publicly named according to police rules but is informed routinely about the operation, says that scores of police who stormed the building early Wednesday were met with unexpectedly violent resistance. Reinforcements were summoned and several people were injured.

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7:45 a.m.

Authorities in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis have evacuated about 20 residents from a building where suspects linked to the Paris attacks are holed up in a standoff with police.

A city official not authorized to be publicly named told The Associated Press the residents were brought to city hall for protection. City hall is about 200 meters (yards) from the apartment building where the standoff is taking place on rue du Cornillon, in the heart of the historic, multicultural town just north of Paris.

The site is less than 2 kilometers (about a mile) from the Stade de France national stadium. Three suicide bombers blew themselves up Friday near the stadium during an international soccer match with French President Francois Hollande in attendance.

Saint-Denis is one of France’s most historic places. French kings were crowned and buried through the centuries in its famed basilica. Today it is home to a vibrant and very ethnically diverse population and sees sporadic tension between police and violent youths.

PARIS (AP) – The latest on the deadly attacks in Paris. (All times local):

7:35 a.m.

At least seven explosions have been heard at the scene of a police standoff with suspects in last week’s deadly Paris attacks.

Associated Press reporters at the scene could hear what sounded like grenade blasts from the direction of the standoff in the heart of the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.

The source of the blasts is unclear. Police say several people are holed up in an apartment and several police have been injured in an operation that has lasted at least three hours on Wednesday morning.

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7:20 a.m.

A resident of the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis describes intense gunfire and explosions during a police operation near the site of one of last week’s deadly attacks.

Baptiste Marie, a 26-year-old independent journalist who lives near the scene of the standoff, tells The Associated Press: “It started with an explosion. Then there was second big explosion. Then two more explosions. There was an hour of gunfire.”

Resident Amin Guizani, 21, says: “There were grenades. It was going, stopping. Kalashnikovs. Starting again.”

Riot police were clearing the streets early Wednesday, pointing guns at curious residents to move them off the roads.

Marie said the officers seemed nervous.

“You could see it in their eyes, ” Marie said.

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6:55 a.m.

Police say anti-terrorist officers are raiding an apartment in a north Paris suburb where several men are holed up.

The Paris police department says officers have exchanged gunfire with the suspects and several police have been injured. The extent of their injuries is unknown.

It’s unclear whether there are injuries among the suspects.

Police reinforcements are arriving at the scene in St. Denis.

1:32 a.m. ET: A series of explosions is heard in the area. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the blasts were controlled explosions carried out by authorities.

12:39 a.m. ET: An unspecified number of suspects have been cornered in a building in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, Mayor Didier Paillard said in an interview on French television early Wednesday.

• Police and soldiers have cordoned off the zone and all public transportation in the area has been halted.

• The operation is related to the search for suspects in the Paris attacks, police say.

• Residents have been warned to stay inside.

Paris (CNN) — [Breaking news update, posted at 12:44 a.m. ET]

A number of suspects have been cornered in a building in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, the mayor of Saint-Denis, Didier Paillard, said in an interview on CNN affiliate BFM-TV early Wednesday.

UPDATE: Suspects have been pinned down in a building in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, Saint-Denis mayor tells CNN affiliate BFM-TV.

PARIS (AP) — The Latest: Police vans rush to scene in Paris suburb

6:27 a.m.

Police vans and fire trucks are rushing to the scene of a SWAT team operation in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis that is linked to the deadly Paris attacks.

A helicopter is flying overhead at dawn Wednesday.

French television BFM and i-Tele say that the suspects are inside an apartment building.

Police have cordoned off the area nearby, including a pedestrian zone lined with shops and 19th-century apartment buildings.

Neighborhood resident Fabien Crombe said on BFM television that gunshots have repeatedly broken out since the police operation began, punctuated by silence and the sound of sirens.

Saint Denis Mayor Didier Paillard said transport has been stopped and schools in the center of town will not open Wednesday.

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6:15 a.m.

Authorities in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis are telling residents to stay inside during a large police operation near France’s national stadium that two officials say is linked to last week’s deadly attacks.

Deputy Mayor Stephane Peu told i-Tele television that there have been many gun shots and detonations in the operation that began at 4:25 a.m. (0325 GMT) Wednesday on rue de la Republique in the center of Saint Denis.

The site is less than two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Stade de France, targeted by three suicide bombers during Friday’s attacks.

He urged residents to stay home, saying “it is not a new attack but a police intervention.”

Two officials say police operation now under way is connected to the investigation into Friday’s attacks that killed 129 people.

Paris (CNN) — [Breaking news update, posted at 11:29 p.m. ET]

Witnesses report heavy gunfire and that police are blocking roads in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis early Wednesday.

Police officers have been shot and wounded during a raid seeking one of the suspects in the Paris terrorist attacks, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported.

[Previous story, published at 8:15 p.m ET]

The older brother of Salah Abdeslam, the man being hunted internationally for his alleged role in the Paris terror attacks last week, urged the suspect Tuesday to turn himself over to authorities.

“I would tell him to surrender. That’s the best solution,” Mohamed Abdeslam told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “But of course, if he has something to do with it, he must accept responsibility.”

Authorities are combing through evidence as they try to track down the 26-year-old fugitive. And he may not be the only suspect tied to the attacks who’s on the run.

In their push to unravel the attack plot and the suspected network behind it, counterterrorism and intelligence officials say investigators have uncovered a clue that could be a big break: cell phones believed to belong to the attackers.

According to the officials, one of the phones contained a message, sent sometime before the attacks began, to the effect of: OK, we’re ready.

“It points to a sort of organization,” CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said, “an attempt to try to synchronize what was going down.”

But cracking into their communication won’t be easy.

Investigators have found encrypted apps on the phones, which appear to have left no trace of messages or any indication of who would have been receiving them, according to officials briefed on the French investigation.

Paris attacks: What you need to know

‘These are not regular people’

Mohamed Abdeslam said the last time he saw his brothers was about a week ago.

“They left without saying goodbye,” he said.

Now one of them is a wanted fugitive. And authorities say another Abdeslam brother, Ibrahim, 31, was among the seven terrorists who either killed themselves or were killed by police in a series of coordinated attacks across the French capital on Friday night that killed at least 129 people and wounded hundreds more

Mohamed Abdeslam told CNN that before the attacks, he’d noticed his brothers changing and adopting more radical views. He suspects the Internet could have played a role. But he said his family was shocked by the attack, and had no idea what they were planning.

“My brother who participated in this terrorist act must have been psychologically ready to commit such an act. These are not regular people,” he said. “You cannot have the slightest doubt that they have been prepared, that they must not leave any trace which would cause suspicion that they might do such things. And even if you saw them every day, their behavior was quite normal.”

Complete coverage of Paris attacks

Suspects questioned by Belgian authorities in February

Police stopped Salah Abdeslam hours after the attacks in a car on his way toward the Belgian border. They let him go because he apparently hadn’t yet been linked to the terrorist operation.

Both he and Ibrahim were previously known to authorities: Belgian prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt told CNN’s Ivan Watson that police questioned the Abdeslam brothers in February.

What we know about the Paris terror attacks suspects

 “Ibrahim tried to go to Syria and was sent back by the Turks in the beginning of 2015,” Van Der Sypt said. “It was after that that we questioned him.”

Both brothers were released, the federal prosecutor said, after they denied wanting to go to Syria.

He said Belgian authorities were also trying to keep an eye on Bilal Hadfi, one of the suicide bombers who struck outside the Stade de France, according to several sources. “We knew (Hadfi) was in Syria,” Van Der Sypt said. “But what we didn’t know is apparently he was back, as he blew himself up in Paris. But we had no knowledge of the fact that he was back in Europe.”

Paris victims from all walks of life

‘At war’ and launching airstrikes

Declaring the country is “at war,” French President Francois Hollande has proposed extending the state of emergency for a further three months, along with sweeping new anti-terrorism laws.

Security forces conducted more than 128 new raids around the country overnight, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday during a radio interview.

Parisians respond to tragedy with silent respect and defiance

Meanwhile, outside the country, French warplanes havelaunched wave after wave of airstrikes on ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria, and a major Belgian police operation was conducted Monday in the Abdeslams’ home base in Molenbeek, a Brussels suburb with a history of links to Islamist terror plots.

Belgian authorities say two men detained over the weekend in Molenbeek in connection with the attacks are now under arrest for “attempted terrorism and participation in the activities of a terrorist group.”

Tracking the suspected mastermind

Before the Paris attacks, France and its allies had tried to target a prominent ISIS member who is believed to have planned the assault on the French capital, a French source close to the investigation said.

Abaaoud had been implicated in the planning of a number of terrorist attacks and conspiracies in Western Europe before the Paris attacks.

Believed to be close to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, he was linked to a plan to attack Belgian police that was thwarted in January. He has since been featured in ISIS’ online English-language magazine. His current whereabouts are unknown.

 

 

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