Shootout in northern Paris as police hunt attackers

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015,11:22 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Paris | Shooting broke out in northern Paris during a dawn raid by police investigating the Paris attacks, sources said today, as police hunted those behind the attacks that claimed 129 lives in the French capital. Several police were wounded in the raid, said a source close to the operation, which began before dawn in the suburb of Saint Denis. Police sources said unidentified men were still holed up in an apartment.

The area is home to the Stade de France, one of several places hit by gunmen and suicide bombers on Friday in the worst ever attack on French soil, which was claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group. Firemen told AFP they they joined the operation against an armed group holed up in an apartment at 04:31 am, without giving any further details, adding that one person was lightly hurt.

The area was closed down and intermittent gunfire could still be heard an hour after it started. Another source said a special armed response unit took part in the raid, which comes as Europe was on high alert after footage from the scene of one of Friday’s attacks revealed a ninth suspect may have taken part. It was not clear if this ninth man was one of two suspected accomplices detained in Belgium or was on the run, potentially with 26-year-old fugitive Frenchman Salah Abdeslam who carried out one of the attacks at Bonne Biere cafe along with his suicide-bomber brother Brahim.

French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday will hold a meeting to discuss proposals to extend by three months the state of emergency declared after the worst attacks in French history. It will then be put to vote by lawmakers Thursday and Friday. In a sign of the nervousness gripping Europe after Friday’s carnage, a football match between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled Tuesday and the crowd evacuated after police acted on a serious bomb threat. As police stepped up the hunt for the fugitives, French and Russian jets pounded IS targets in the group’s Syrian stronghold of Raqa for a third consecutive day.

France and Russia have vowed merciless retaliation for the Paris attacks and last month’s bombing of a Russian airliner, also claimed by the Islamic State group, which have galvanised international resolve to destroy the jihadists and end Syria’s more than four-year civil war. It’s necessary to establish direct contact with the French and work with them as allies, Russian President Vladimir Putin said as France prepared to send an aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean.