French police release seven people picked up during raid last week

November 21, 2015 21:13
1 minute read.

PARIS - French police have released seven of the eight people rounded up when they raided a flat last Wednesday where the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks was hiding, a judicial source said.

Islamic State jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, one of the group's most high-profile European recruits, died during the police assault along with a woman believed to be his cousin and a third person yet to be identified.

During the raid, police took in eight people for questioning, five from inside the building in the northern St. Denis suburb and three from outside, including a man who said he was in charge of the property and is still being held.

A source close to the investigation said the five from inside who have been freed were believed just to be squatters without proper identity papers, while a man and a woman picked up outside have also been released.

France has launched a massive investigation to get to the bottom of exactly who was behind the massacres that killed 130 people in Paris last Friday and stunned a nation still raw from militant attacks in the capital in January.

Investigators believe Abaaoud, a Moroccan-born Belgian who had fought for Islamic State in Syria, was the mastermind behind the shootings and bombings at the national soccer stadium, a famous concert venue and several bars and restaurants.

European governments thought he was still in Syria until a tip-off from Morocco that he was in France at the time of the attacks, the worst in the country since World War II.

Abaaoud was caught on camera in the east of Paris after the initial wave of shootings, heading into a metro station not far from an abandoned black Seat Leon which had three AK47 assault rifles, five full ammunition clips and 11 empty clips inside.

Two sources involved in the investigation said on Saturday his fingerprints were on one of the weapons but it was not clear whether he took part in the shootings, or had just handled the rifle. The fingerprints of Brahim Abdeslam, who blew himself up after attacking a cafe, were on another of the AK47s.

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