A violent, hours-long operation in a Paris suburb ended Wednesday with two suspected terrorists dead, seven detained, new attacks potentially thwarted and further proof, according to French President Francois Hollande, that his country is “at war” with ISIS.
The Saint-Denis raid targeted the purported ringleader of last week’s bloody Paris attacks and came as the suspects were “about to move on some kind of operation,” according to police sources.
For the second time in less than a week, gunfire and explosions ripped through France on Wednesday — but this time, suspected terrorists were on the defensive, with two ending up dead and seven in custody.
Phone surveillance and testimony led authorities to believe Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of last week’s bloody Paris attacks, may have been in an apartment in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins.
Officials didn’t say immediately if Abaaoud, a Belgian ISIS member widely believed to have been in Syria recently, was among the dead or detained. Still, they lauded the efforts of the heavily armed police involved in the operation that ended, after several tense hours, shortly before noon Wednesday.
French President Francois Hollande was among those who offered congratulations. Yet he also stressed that his country’s fight against terrorists, specifically those linked to ISIS, is anything but over. In fact, the violent nature of Wednesday’s raid in Saint-Denis is further proof that “we are at war,” Hollande said.
“What the terrorists were targeting was what France represents. This is what was attacked on the night of November 13th,” he said. “These barbarians targeted France’s diversity. It was the youth of France who were targeted simply because they represent life.”
Given this threat, Hollande said that Wednesday evening he would present the French parliament with legislation that would extend France’s state of emergency for three additional months — a measure that, among other things, gives authorities greater powers in conducting searches, holding people under house arrest and dissolving certain groups of people. The French President also said he’d appeal to world leaders — including meetings next week with U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who have been at odds on what to do in the ISIS stronghold of Syria — to go after the savage Islamist extremist group.
“This war began several years ago,” Hollande said. “We still need time.”