French police have killed the suspected mastermind behind last Friday's Paris terror attacks, the city's prosecutor said in a statement on Thursday.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Belgian militant, who had boasted of mounting attacks in Europe for the Islamic State (IS), has been accused of orchestrating Friday's coordinated bombings and shootings in the French capital, which killed 129 people.
Police originally thought he was in Syria, but their investigations led them to a house in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. Heavily armed officers stormed the building before dawn on Wednesday morning, triggering a massive firefight and multiple explosions.
Two people were killed in the police raid, including a woman who blew herself up, but French police did not say whether the other person was Abaaoud until today.
"Abdel Hamid Abaaoud has just been formally identified, after comparing fingerprints, as having been killed during the (police) raid," the prosecutor's statement said. "It was the body we had discovered in the building, riddled with bullets."
Abaaoud was originally thought to be in Syria. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Thursday that France had received no information from other European countries to signal that Abdelhamid Abaaoud had entered Europe until November 16, two days after 129 people were killed in the French capital,
"No information coming from European countries, where he could have transited before arriving in France, was given to us," Cazeneuve said.
"It was only on November 16, after the Paris attacks, that an intelligence service outside Europe signaled that he had been aware of his presence in Greece."
Abaaoud seemed to have been involved in four of six foiled attacks in France since the spring, Cazeneuve added.
Eight people were also arrested in the Saint-Denis raid operation. French police are still hunting for Saleh Abdeslam, another suspect believed to be behind last week's attacks.
Since 2014, Abaaoud has spent time fighting alongside IS in Syria, once appearing in a video driving a car transporting bodies to a mass grave, and was also involved in trying to recruit other Westerners, reported the Guardian. French media have said he recruited his 13-year-old brother.
Abaaoud is also suspected for planning several other foiled terror attacks in the past year, including the attempt to shoot passengers on an Amsterdam-Brussels train in August and a planned attack on a church in Paris in April.
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