French authorities have formally identified Belgian Isis jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind behind the Paris attacks, as one of the two people killed in a police raid on a apartment in Saint-Denis, Paris.
Two people were killed and seven have been arrested after police raided the flat in search of suspects linked to the 13 November attacks in Paris that left 129 dead, and wounded more than 350 people. Abaaoud was reported as being the target of the Saint-Denis raid.
Paris prosecutor François Molins said 5,000 rounds of ammunition were expended over the course of the raids at two properties in the area, detailing a deadly confrontation in which five members of Special Forces were injured, two suspects killed and eight more arrested.
Molins, on Thursday (19 November), confirmed the body found in the flat, "riddled with bullets and shrapnel", was public enemy No 1 Abaaoud.
Abaaoud's presence in France 'shows Europe failure'
Earlier on Thursday, France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius condemned the "failings" of the European system after initial,-unconfirmed, reports suggested Abaaoud had been killed.
"If Abaaoud could move from Syria to France, that means there are flaws in the whole European system," Fabius said on Thursday. "Then, we'll have to be much, much firmer and tighter."
Abaaoud was believed to have fled Europe through Greece as the net of international intelligence agencies closed around him. The 27-year-old IS militant boasted in an interview with Islamic State's Dabiq magazine in February that he had been able to leave Europe and evade security forces.
If he was speaking in Syria at the time of the interview, as had been assumed, confirmation from French officials that they had targeted Abaaoud would indicate that he was still able to sneak into Europe for a second time despite being sentenced in absentia to 20 years in Belgium for recruiting for IS in Syria and running terror networks.
Abaaoud, blooded in Syria fighting against Assad forces, has been identified by various European police forces as being behind a string of botched terrorist attacks on the continent, including a plot to kill police officers in Verviers in January and the thwarted attacks on a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris in April.
Abaaoud's cousin also dead
Described as the first-ever female suicide bomber to operate in western Europe, 26-year-old Hasna Aitboulahcen who detonated a suicide vest during the raid by French police is said to be the cousin of Abaaoud.
It is not known if Aitboulahcen triggered the explosive belt to commit suicide or to cause the maximum possible damage, but the young woman had expressed her dreams of going to Syria just months before she blew herself up.
iTele reported that investigators traced the alleged terror suspects back to her flat – which Molins described as a "conspiratorial" apartment – after tapping her conversations. She was believed to be constantly in touch with Abaaoud.
More about Hasna Aitboulahcen here - Radicalised female suicide bomber Hasna Aitboulahcen wanted to go to Syria.