French forensic teams are working to establish whether the body of a man found dead after a firefight with police in an apartment north of Paris is that of the alleged ringleader of last week’s Paris terror attacks, Abdel-Hamid Abu Oud.
At least two people – a woman who apparently blew herself up by detonating an explosive vest, and a man hit by multiple gunshots and a grenade – died in the seven-hour assault on the rundown block in St-Denis, but police and the Paris prosecutor’s office on Thursday stressed neither has yet been identified.
French media have reported the dead woman was Abu Oud’s cousin, Hasna Aitboulahcen, but the mutilated condition of both bodies and the dangerous state of the badly damaged building was making it difficult to identify either.
The entire third floor of the building at 8, rue du Corbillon collapsed during the raid on Wednesday, Georges Salinas, deputy commander of the elite BRI police unit, told French radio. He said that was why identification was taking so long, adding it “could mean we may have a third terrorist under the rubble”.
The Paris public prosecutor, François Molins, said on Wednesday that neither Abu Oud, a 27-year-old Belgian extremist who left for Syria in 2014 but is known to have returned to Europe at least once since, nor Salah Abdeslam, another fugitive sought in connection with Friday’s wave of shootings and suicide bombings, were among the eight people arrested at the scene.