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Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man suspected to have masterminded the Friday terror attacks in Paris, was the target of a Wednesday morning raid by elite forces on an apartment in a suburb of the city, a police source said.
Two persons are believed to have been killed in the raid by special forces on an apartment in Saint Denis, including a woman who allegedly detonated a bomb.
Gunshots broke out at around 4.30 am, as the special forces closed in on the suspects hiding in the apartment, five days after the attacks in which 129 people were killed. Seven explosions were heard in the area a short while ago.
Abaaoud was holed up in the apartment along with Salah Abdeslam, one of the Paris attackers on the run, and a few others. The 28-year-old member of the Islamic State terror group, was earlier thought to be in Syria.
Several police officers have been wounded in the shooting, say sources. Seven terrorists died in the Friday attacks. While claiming responsibility for the attacks, the Islamic State group said eight men were involved.
Salah Abdeslam, 26, is suspected to have carried out the shootings along with his suicide-bomber brother Brahim.
The residents of the Saint Denis woke up to gunfire, which went on for four hours. Many switched off their lights and hid, fearing stray bullets and bombs.
'Deafening explosions' and shooting were heard from the area, said residents. Traffic was blocked to the area where only helicopters, ambulances and police cars were visible.
The raid took place close to the Stade de France soccer stadium where three suicide bombers detonated their explosive belts and killed a passerby on Friday.
Saint-Denis is one of France's most historic places. It is home to a vibrant and very ethnically diverse population and sees sporadic tension between police and violent youths.
A few hours ago, two Air France flights en route to Paris from the United States were diverted because of security issues.
The police have stepped up a Europe-wide hunt for the Paris attackers after video confirmed that there may have been a ninth man.