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Nov 19, 2015 10:17 AM

Prosecutor: Paris attacks ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud dead


PARIS, France (CNN) - The ringleader in last week's bloody terrorist attacks in Paris was killed in a pre-dawn raid Wednesday on an apartment building north of the French capital, the Paris prosecutor's office announced Thursday.

Authorities zeroed in on a building in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis after picking up phone conversations indicating that a relative of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who authorities believe coordinated the shootings and bombings that killed 129 people, may have been there, a Belgian counterterrorism official said.

French police believed Abaaoud himself was then still in the country, though they didn't know exactly where. Some residents in Saint-Denis told CNN that they had seen Abaaoud recently in the neighborhood and at a local mosque.

It turns out Abaaoud was in that building in Saint-Denis. And after a violent firefight that included explosions and gunfire, he was dead.

In a statement released Thursday, the Paris prosecutor's office said that Abaaoud's body was found in the Saint-Denis building riddled with bullets. The office said that he was positively identified using papillary prints, which include patterns on fingers, palms and the soles of the feet.

Exactly how he died, at this point, isn't known. Police fired around 5,000 rounds of ammunition in the confrontation and used strong munitions that spurred a floor to collapse.

The prosecutor's office said Thursday that authorities still don't know whether Abaaoud blew himself up or not. That's what officials say happened with the raid's only other fatality, that of a woman suicide bomber that Belgian state broadcaster RTBF reported was Abaaoud's cousin.

A police dog also died in the operation, while five police officers were slightly wounded.

Speaking Thursday about Abaaoud's demise in the Saint-Denis raid, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said, "The target was achieved."


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