French police confirmed Thursday that the alleged ringleader of the Paris attacks was killed in Wednesday’s siege of an apartment about a mile from the football stadium where the ISIS assault began.
Along with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, police reportedly killed a female, believed to be the cousin of Abaaoud, who blew herself up. Hasna Aitboulahcen, 26, is thought to be Europe’s first female suicide bomber, but analysts say she would have been attempting not to be captured.
About 110 heavily armed officers stormed two adjacent flats on Rue Corbillon, a quiet street in Saint Denis, just north of the capital, shortly after 4 a.m. The element of surprise was lost, police said, when an attempt was made to blow down the door of one apartment and it failed, giving those inside time to pick up their weapons. The gunfight lasted several hours and French police fired “almost 5,000” rounds of ammunition. By the end, there was so much structural damage to the building it was in danger of collapse.
Abaaoud is from the Molenbeek district of Brussels, which is also home to Brahim Abdeslam, 31, and Salah Abdesalam, 26, his brother, who took part in the Paris attacks. The former blew himself up, and the latter is on the run.
Reports indicate Abaaoud’s suspected location was determined after police found a mobile phone used by one of the terrorists in a trash bin near the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people died Friday night. The last text message sent from it, at 9:42 p.m., just as the assault on the Bataclan began: “Off we go, we’re starting.”