tv World News Now ABC November 18, 2015 3:00am-3:31am EST
good morning on this wednesday november 18th. this is a special edition of "world news now." >> we're following breaking news from france. >> gunfire and police raids north of paris. the search for suspected terrorists takes a new turn, a dramatic one. we're going to take you to the scene. raids targeting paris's mastermind. that is what police have told us they believe that they have focused on this area in a suburb not too far from paris, specifically in an apartment complex. initially they believed there were two suspects holed up inside. and there have been several developments that have been taking place just within the last few hours. all of this playing out 4:30 in the morning, paris time, 10:30 eastern time last night here on the east coast. we want to get to our alex marquardt who has been on the scene shortly after all of this started going down. alex, what do you know now? >> reporter: well, good morning,
kendis. well, just a short few seconds ago the clock tower here in the center of saint-denis tolled 9:00. that raid started taking place around 4:30 this morning when police launched it with a very intensive strike. there were loud volleys of gunfire heard. explosions. that lasted for quite some time. we understood there were several wounded among the police. we've been on the scene now for around two hours. about an hour and a half ago we heard a loud series of explosions which we believe to be sound grenades or concussion grenades if you will that police often use in sieges and -- we understand from the french justice ministry is that this raid is either coming to an end or has finished. it has been relatively quiet here for quite some time. there have been flurries of activity every so often but it has been quiet in terms of the firing, the explosions and so on. we also understand from french officials that one of the suspects who was holed up in
this apartment around 200 meters down that road, maybe you can see the police lights blinking down there, was a woman, and she detonated her suicide vest. we understand from the french news agency agence france-presse that there were at least two other suspects in there, one of whom is now believed to be dead. reena? >> alex, there were two big developments overnight. one was the fact there was a second suspect on the run they were looking for. and also the fact to hear from your reporting this morning that there was a female whoad h an explosive vest and detonated. how surprised were you to hear that there was female involvement in this operation? >> reporter: well, one would have to assume given the complexity of this operation that it was highly coordinated. we're talking about the friday night attacks that killed 129 people. that these were suicide bombers. in the heart of europe. at many different locations. this was a highly coordinated, very well-organized attack that would have taken months to
organize. french officials and other international officials have said it was organized from syria. and so it would have taken well beyond the initial eight attackers that they believe were involved in this attack. you have to imagine there were -- who were involved. so it's really not fa far-fetched to imagine there were also women involved in this attack. you have to remember that thousands of people from europe have gone to join isis in syria and many of them have been women. they're often referred to as isis brides. they don't generally see any sort of frontline fighting. many of them go to the de facto capital, raqqah. isis's de facto capital raqqah in syria. so it's really not all that surprising that they would have a female accomplice. now, to your previous point, until last night it was believed that there had been eight attackers on friday night, seven of whom died during the attacks. one became the prime suspect. his name is salah abdeslam. he's a 26-year-old belgian.
he is believed to be alive, on the run. an international manhunt has been launched to find him. but then late last night in a big new development the french came out saying there was a possible ninth attacker who could have been involved. that's being based off of cctv, closed circuit video of one of the incidents that showed three people in a car rather than two people. so a second suspect has -- still alive, has been added to this list by french authorities. kendis, reena? >> and alex, the french prosecutors have been saying all morning long that the target of the raids that took place in saint-denis right there behind you has been abdelhamid abaaoud, who was the mastermind behind all of this. how surprising is it for you who have been covering this since the very start to hear he might have possible have been right there in that residential neighborhood? >> reporter: not just surprising but scary. this is the nightmare scenario
that french and european and american intelligence agencies all fear. you have thousands of fighters from these countries who have gone to syria to fight. and if this turns out to be true, and we know it has happened in previous occasions, make their way back to europe and join cells or form cells here in europe. we believe there are these sleeper cells not just in europe but in the united states. so it would be embarrassing to the french intelligence services and to interpol. it would be extremely scary, as i mentioned. but it is something of the chickens coming home to roost. this is something that officials have feared for quite some time. this belgian, abdelhamid abaaoud, he's a 26-year-old originally of moroccan descent. he is not someone who has just stood on the sidelines. he is someone who has risen to quite some prominence within the isis ranks, appearing in many of their propaganda videos, most
notably some of the most brutal propaganda videos where they execute foreigners and people who are against them. so this is someone who is quite well known. he was believed to have organized this from vsyria. if it does indeed turn out to be true he is here in france that would be quite embarrassing and disturbing. >> absolutely. quite a few developments in the paris suburb of saint-denis where our alex marquardt is standing by for us. alex, thank you. we want to go to another part of this area, to matt gutman who's standing by as well. matt, we're hearing right now, breaking news from the associated press, that there have been three arrested in that paris suburb. have you seen any arrests and what are you hearing on the ground right now? >> reporter: we've seen a number of people being led out with their hands on their heads. we don't know if they were arrested. apparently, everybody in this entire area, in the perimeter, has to be probably about half a square mile, has been ordered to stay in their home. so anybody who's out and about could be considered a suspect.
no reports on who was arrested or the exact target. but as alex just mentioned, clearly the number one target right now in the french crosshairs, abdelhamid abaaoud, is someone who's suspected to have been in this location. and that's why we noticed police being so jittery. we've been here for a few days, and it has been clear that france is on high alert and that they're extremely eager and keen on finding the suspects in this case and having the mastermind right here in northern paris of both of these attacks, as alex said, is not only an embarrassment, it also speaks to what has happened with french intelligence. what seems to be an entire collapse in the ability to discern whether or not their top target is in fact right beneath their noses. what we can say is that still hundreds and hundreds of police officers, heavily armed, wearing body armor around their
shoulders and of course covering their chests with automatic weapons have been spread out around this perimeter ordering people back. we've seen them rush in. the army has come in as well. and that is possibly a source of all that gunfire you heard earlier. and it's been sporadic. and that's one of the things that's possibly most surprising about this, is how long it has lasted. probably about four hours now since the first reports of gunfire and we've heard additional gunfire, sometimes dozens of bullets, sometimes a single shot, and of course ten explosions that we heard as well which probably sounded like small explosions. they could have been stun grenades. which speak to possibly some sort of arrest going on or continuing siege and attempt to try to capture people alive rather than killing them. so this continues to be an ongoing and very large operation, possibly the finale of this attack if in fact -- of the paris attacks from any killing 129 people. if in fact french authorities have managed to corner or possibly arrest abdelhamid
abaaoud. >> all right, matt. and i know you've been on the move. we saw where saint-denis is there just about 30 minutes north of central paris. matt, you've been on the move in this area. does it seem as though the situation is calming down a little bit? by the way, these are live pictures of that neighborhood. >> reporter: it does. it seems that police are a little bit more relaxed. but every once in a while they seem to be sprinting somewhere. in addition to that, every time that somebody comes out of one of these buildings, and this is a working-class neighborhood, so when we came in here at about 6:00 a.m. there were still some people, you know, coming out and about, getting their coffee, about to go to work. a lot of them were sent running. some of them came out of their uses with their hands on their heads. nobody wanted to be considered a suspect or threatening in any way to the police officers out here because they were twitchy and they physically pushed back the press multiple times every time we got even near their perimeter. so very, very edgy here. and again, kendis, all these people in this entire neighborhood have been ordered
by the governing authorities to stay indoors. i don't think that that has been rescinded yet. 12 schools have been closed today around here. kids not going to school. this entire area is on lockdown. and again, police couldn't be any more jittery than they are right now. >> matt, i want to take you -- we've got some breaking news. paris prosecutor's office saying that they have made five arrests overnight, three from inside that apartment. three people have been detained. we don't know exactly what their identities are. but we do know a man and a woman came close to the apartment. they have also been detained in this process. >> and then you also have that woman who set herself -- ignited her explosive belt, who is dead this morning. matt, we're going to check back with you, but we're going to take a quick break right now. and on the other side of this break we're going to hear from some of the eye and ear witnesses to this morning's police raid in paris.
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for those of you joining us now, we have breaking news coverage from raids in paris not far from a paris suburb as the country there is attempting to recover from the attacks. we are learning from these raids overnight that there were five people arrested, three from inside an apartment building that's just 30 minutes from paris. there are people that have been detained. no information on the identities. we do know that a man and woman who attempted to get close to the apartment building were also detained as well, and one woman did set off her explosive suicide velvet. >> and we're told that the target of all these raids was
the mastermind behind the attacks that took place on friday, abdelhamid abaaoud. in the meantime, though, as this was all playing out around 4:30 in the morning paris time, many residents in the neighborhood in saint dennis were waking up to these sounds. take a listen. >> i heard an explosion, about 20 minutes ago, about six explosions. well, i didn't count, actually, but it was quite a few explosions. that was about 20 minutes ago. >> and what's happening there now? has it gone quiet now? >> yes, it seems quiet, but for safety reasons i won't be looking too much. and then yeah, at least 50 police army vehicles and over 100 soldiers, policemen. i saw that people were posting it, posting about the shooting. and then at that time i realized that there was a shooting and then i informed all my friends and flatmates and people around the area.
and then yeah, there were continuous gunshots for it felt like over half an hour. >> i woke up hearing gunshots. i went out to the window and we could hear it. then we called the police to let them know what's going on and what we heard, and we thought it was like a shooting or something. but then she told us that the police was intervening. it's called a raid police. so we could hear the shootings until 5:30 a.m., i think. and then we could still see the helicopters flying. and now -- we just want to be safe and we don't think about being near some terrorists or something like that. we never thought it could ever happen in my town. it's very weird to see that and
terrifying. places we go often on tv with the police. that's terrifying. i'm just shaking right now. >> she told me that she was woken up by a huge explosion. police stormed into the building and told her to get down on the floor. she was with her husband and her -- who's a baby. and she got really scared and she spent two hours lying down on the floor. police told her to remain there while they were conducting the operation. then they told her -- they evacuated her and told her to go to the city hall. that's where -- she told me she was really, really scared. she was scared for her son and that it was a very traumatic experience. >> you hear the eyewitness tell all of this that was taking place in the paris suburb of saint-denis this morning. and even at this hour, i would say about five hours after all of this started this morning, you can see police still have a big and heavy presence there in
that neighborhood north of paris. >> and immediately after those attacks on paris, on friday there were air strikes shortly after in syria. now we are seeing a series of raids that have taken place. at least a minimum of 168 raids over the past few days. what you are looking at is 30 minutes from the suburbs of paris in this middle-class neighborhood. heavy police presence. we knew there were at least ten explosions, gunfire erupting throughout this street there, and then we are hearing that the entire raid has finished, that five arrests were made and one woman set off a suicide vest. >> we were told that some police officers were injured as a result of this morning raid. we haven't gotten the full extent of what those injuries are. and we haven't gotten the full identity as yet as to who might have been arrested, those five people. >> and we will have more on the man, the focus that police say was behind these raids. stay with us. you're watching "world news now."
our continuing coverage of raids taking place in a paris suburb, targeting those who were behind the terrorist attacks in paris. >> we know that police have been focusing on who they believe to be the masterminds of those terrorist attacks. abdelhamid abaaoud. and we want to go to the streets of france there to our abc's alex marquardt, who has been watching this unfold. alex, what are you seeing right now? >> reporter: good morning, reena. well, this raid started around 4:30, about 4 1/2 hours ago, just over 4 1/2 hours ago, and we understand it has come to an end according to the justice ministry. there has been a bit of a flurry of activity behind us in the course of the past few minutes. what looked to be police special forces wearing ski masks have just walked away from us.
for much of the past two hours that we've been here it has been relatively calm in this immediate vicinity. but in the last, say, half an hour there has been a bit more activity with these police officers putting on their body armor and helmets and they have their guns at the ready. now, the big question right now is whether this mastermind of these friday attacks, abdelhamid abaaoud, was indeed arrested. he was the target of these -- of this raid today. we understand from the prosecutor's office that five arrests were made, three from inside the apartment and another man and woman close to the apartment. unknown if abaaoud was in -- among them. >> all right. our alex marquardt there with the latest on the situation there in paris. we're going to reset and give you the very latest right after this break. >> and right after that break we will talk with a witness who was locked inside the apartment not far from where this took place. please stay with us. [ man ] look how beautiful it is.
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thank you for joining us. we have continuing breaking news out of france. where we're looking at a area just 30 minutes from paris, an area that has been a focus of police activity. >> yeah. as we continue to look at that activity that's taking place there, we want to bring in our elizabeth hur, who has been following something else that was developing overnight, where we have these two planes that were diverted. and elizabeth, as we bring you in, we are getting this word from the desk that there were no explosives found on the air france plane that was diverted to halifax. but reset. tell us what happened with these two planes. >> reporter: yeah, kendis and reena, certainly that's the good news and the update we were all hoping for. what we know at this point, at least according to air france officials, is this. they tell us that two of their planes received anonymous threats, bomb threats were called in just after takeoff. one left los angeles.
the other took off from d.c. you no, out of an abundance of caution airline officials say they decided to request that both of though planes make an emergency landing. again, one landing in salt lake, the other in halifax. the late word that we are getting is that obviously their pliert on location was to make sure that all the passengers and the crew members were safe. they were safely deplaned. then canine officers and investigators got on the plane, and according to fbi officials they found no explosives on these planes. in fact, we have gotten word that the plane that was grounded in salt lake city, that was already been cleared and it is now back in the air and on its way to paris. officials in halifax, they tell us that that plane has also been cleared and what's happening right now is obviously what to do with the passengers who have been deplaned and how to get them back en route back to paris. so this investigation is continuing, but the good news, according to the fbi, no
explosives were found. and of course the next step right now is to figure out who called in the threats. and of course that's the source to see what happened here. >> have we heard anything more, elizabeth, from the faa? do we expect anything to change as far as security on flights here in the u.s.? >> reporter: at least at this point according to the faa officials they are so far just confirming the details that we have been reporting, that yes, we can confirm that these two flights were diverted. and yes, these -- all of the passengers, first and foremost, are safe and now back on their route to paris. this investigation is continuing. at this time no changes at the airports. but obviously, they're closely monitoring. kendis and reena? >> it really does give you a sense of how stressful things are for many people at this hour. thank you, elizabeth hur reporting from here in our headquarters. >> and we will be continuing our live coverage. breaking news out of france, where terror raids have taken place.
good morning on this wednesday move 18th. this is a special edition of "world news now." >> we're following breaking news from france. >> gunfire and police raids north of paris. you see the scene there earlier. the suspected terrorists under arrest. and all the breaking developments from france. good morning, everyone. i'm kendis gibson. >> and i'm reena ninan. helicopters, gunfire, stun grenades. we've heard all of these explosions overnight. right now we have on the ground abc's alex marquardt. alex, what are you hearing from police at this hour? >> reporter: good morning, reena. well, the justice department tells us that this raid has wrapped up and that coincides with what we're seeing here on the ground. it has been relatively quiet for the past two hours. the last thing that we heard was a flurry or series of loud explosions that were probably