Paris raid Saint Denis
French special police forces secure the area as shots are exchanged in Saint-Denis, France, near ParisChristian Hartmann/Reuters

Heavy gunfire and explosions are taking place in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis after the police close in on Paris attack mastermind Abdelhamid Abaoud and fellow suspect Salah Abdelsalam. Police were staging raids while pursuing leads in connection with the terror attacks in the French capital on Friday (13 November).

Local reports suggest some police officers were injured during the gunfire though it is yet to be officially confirmed. Police are thought to be pursuing the ninth suspect who was involved in the attacks, it initially emerged. Residents in the area heard automatic gunfire though it is not yet confirmed by the authorities.

Police are thought to be pursuing Abdelhamid Abaoud, the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks. The army has also been deployed in the ongoing operation. The Le Monde daily reports, citing a police source, that at least two people have been confirmed killed in the raid while the third death is yet to be ascertained.

French media reports say a woman suicide bomber blew herself during the raid. At least seven explosions have been heard in the area.

At least three people have been taken into custody, reports the BFMTV. Other unconfirmed reports suggest there were several arrests. Suspects are also thought to have been holed up at a residence.

The raid is thought to have begun at 4.30am and is still ongoing after more than three hours. Roads leading to Saint-Denis have also been cordoned off with large police presence reported.

Didier Paillar, mayor of Saint-Denis, told France Info radio that transportation in the area has been suspended due to the ongoing police operation. Residents have been asked to stay indoors as a helicopter was also seen flying above the area.