The Paris prosecutor has asked media to give authorities time to carry out their investigation. Francois Molins said surveillance and witnesses led police to believe that their prime suspect was in an apartment raided.
On Wednesday, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins stopped short of saying that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan descent, had been killed in an early-morning raid. Media had speculated wildly that Abaaoud, thought to be the mastermind of a series of terror attacks Friday, had either been shot or had killed himself.
"The inquiry that has been taking place has made considerable progress," Molins said Wednesday. "A new team of terrorists has been neutralized," he added.
The remarks by Molins came after anti-terror police and soldiers had flooded the streets of the Saint-Denis district. The operation lasted about seven hours and left two people dead, including a woman who police say blew herself up and a man hit by projectiles and grenades. Police made seven arrests, but Abaaoud was not among those arrested, and Molins would not rule out that he had been killed.
A police dog died in the operation. In a tweet, the National Police - the agency that had sent the dog into the building - reported the 7-year-old Belgian Malinois named Diesel "killed by terrorists." Four officers suffered minor injuries.
Abaaoud had previously bragged in propaganda for the "Islamic State" (IS) that he could move between Europe and Syria undetected.
On Wednesday, President Francois Hollande praised security services and said France was "at war" with IS, which has claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris on Friday and wounded 350 others. Police killed seven of the eight attackers.
"It is the entire country that's been attacked," Hollande told a gathering of French mayors. "For what it represents, the fight we are leading to eradicate terrorism. And simply for what we are."
Three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the national stadium during a France-Germany soccer match on Friday. Two other teams of attackers targeted a rock concert at the Bataclan Theater and popular night spots in a trendy Paris neighborhood.
In his televised remarks, Hollande urged the nation not to "give in to fear" or extremist sentiments. "No anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim act can be tolerated," Hollande said.
Many European nations have pledged increased security.
mkg/jil (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)