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Suspected architect of Paris attacks killed in police raid: French prosecutors

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PIX11 News’ Dan Mannarino reports on the confirmation that the suspected architect of the Paris terror attacks has been killed.

PARIS — 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."

Also Thursday, Iraqi and U.S. intelligence officials said the Islamic State group is aggressively pursuing development of chemical weapons, setting up a branch dedicated to research and experiments with the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region.

The American officials tell The Associated Press they do not believe IS has the capability to develop sophisticated weapons like nerve gas that are most suited for a terrorist attack. So far the group is believed to have used mustard gas on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence on the IS program.

In the wake of the Paris attacks claimed by IS, France's prime minister on Thursday warned of the potential for an attack by chemical or biological weapons.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, in his late 20s, is believed to be close to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and is probably the link between the senior ISIS leadership and ISIS operatives in Europe, European counterterrorism officials have said.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, in his late 20s, is believed to be close to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and is probably the link between the senior ISIS leadership and ISIS operatives in Europe, European counterterrorism officials have said.