Gunned down terrorist leader could only be identified by saliva
The suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks who was killed during a dramatic police shoot-out was so badly "riddled" with bullets that saliva samples had to be used to identify his body.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud (27) died with his cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen, who blew herself up following a pre-dawn raid. Eight people were arrested at the scene.
Anti-terror police fired 5,000 bullets during the operation in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday.
Officers found 33 rifles, 31 handguns and 11 military-style weapons in the apartment being used by the terror cell. They also found 44 narcotic products.
It was revealed yesterday that Abaaoud was linked to four foiled terror plots in France this year and had recently used social networks to try to recruit women from Spain to join Islamic State (IS).
Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said French authorities had no information that the IS jihadist was in France before last Friday's massacre that left 129 dead.
Mr Cazeneuve told a press conference that the French government was only informed by an intelligence service "outside of Europe" of Abaaoud's whereabouts on Monday.
The jihadist from Belgium returned from Syria last year and had been involved in four of six foiled attacks in France since the spring.
The six failed plots were all planned from abroad with the intention that they would be carried out by jihadists living in Europe.
A suspected terrorist had confessed while under arrest that he had been trained by Abaaoud to carry out a "violent attack" in France or another European country.
"It is urgent for Europe to come together, organise and defend itself against the terrorist threat," Mr Cazeneuve said.
A French official said Aitboulahcen, believed to be the first female suicide bomber to hit western Europe, detonated a suicide vest after a brief exchange with police officers.
According to the official, one of them asked: "Where is your boyfriend?" Aitboulahcen responded angrily: "He's not my boyfriend!" There then was an explosion.
The bodies recovered in the raid were badly mangled, with part of the woman's spine landing on a police car.
Jean-Michel Fauvergue, direc- tor of France's anti-terrorist unit, said officers were told there were three people in the building in Saint-Denis, two men and one woman.
"Intelligence sources knew it was likely Abdelhamid Abaaoud would be there," he told Le Figaro newspaper.
He said officers blasted the door open using explosives but were blocked by a shield that had been placed behind it. An exchange of fire lasted between 30 and 45 minutes, where "hundreds of shots were exchanged" and the terrorists launched grenades.
"We know that there could also be a risk of chemical or biological weapons," he said.
Mr Fauvergue said the team then sent Diesel, a police dog, into the apartment to do a reconnaissance, but the animal was killed.
One of the snipers hit a terrorist who continued to fire using a Kalashnikov.
Aitboulahcen sent "a long burst of gunfire" at officers before blowing herself up.
"Windows along the street shattered. A body part, a part of the spine, fell on one of our cars," Mr Fauvergue said.
He said Aitboulahce blew herself up inside the apartment in the hope the building would collapse and kill the raid team.
Attention has now turned on Salah Abdeslam, one of the suspected gunmen from Friday's attacks who is now the focus of an international manhunt.