A key suspect wanted in connection with last week’s terror attacks in Paris was killed during a police operation, the French government has confirmed, reports The Financial Times.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian thought to have orchestrated the attacks in the French capital that killed at least 129 people, died during the seven-hour siege in Saint-Denis on Wednesday.
The police operation resulted in the deaths of at least two people — one a female suicide bomber, while the other was believed to have been hit by grenade fragments.
Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister, had said earlier that the task of identification was proving difficult because the body found in the suburban Paris apartment had been “so ripped apart”.
Confirmation that Abaaoud was in Paris will prompt fresh questions about intelligence leading up to the attacks. The 26-year old had been presumed to be in Syria, where he had joined the Islamist militant group Isis.
“We have to be extremely careful,” Mr Fabius told France Info radio before the confirmation. “If Abaaoud has been able to travel from Syria to France, it means that there are failings in the whole European system.”
The news came just moments after the lower house of the French parliament voted to extend the current state of emergency for three months, a move that will give the police sweeping extra powers.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s vote, prime minister Manuel Valls voiced his concerns to the National Assembly about the terrorist threat, urging them to back an extension of emergency powers.
“The morbid imagination of those who give orders is without limit,” said Mr Valls. “Assault rifles, beheadings, human bombs, knives . . . One should not rule out anything.
“I am careful in saying this, but we know it and we keep it in mind. There could be the risk of chemical or bacteriological weapons.”