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Paris 'mastermind' was not among those arrested today

A member of the police at the scene in Saint-Denis today
A member of the police at the scene in Saint-Denis today

Belgian jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud - named as the ringleader of the Paris massacres - was not among those arrested during a police operation in the city's northern Saint-Denis suburb today, prosecutor Francois Molins said.

Two people were killed in the seven-hour siege, including a woman who blew herself up, and seven others were arrested.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the dead were a woman who blew herself up with an explosive vest and a man hit by projectiles and grenades.

He said the raid was launched after information from tapped telephone conversations, surveillance and witness accounts indicated that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, might be in a safe house in the north Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.

However, authorities say he was not one of those arrested in the Saint-Denis operation.

Investigators have identified Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan descent, as the chief architect of Friday's attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people and wounded more than 360 others.

On Wednesday, residents of Paris's Saint-Denis neighbourhood were shocked awake by an explosion at around 4.20am local time.

Amine Guizani said the blast was followed by the sound of grenades and automatic gunfire.

"It was continuous. It didn't stop," he said. "It lasted from 4.20am until 5.30am. It was a good hour. I couldn't say how many shots were fired, but it was probably 500. Hundreds, definitely. There were maybe 10 explosions."

Police cordoned off an area around the building in a narrow street lined with low-rise buildings. Riot police cleared people from the streets, pointing guns at residents to move them off the roads.

"We tried to stop our children hearing the noise," said Farah Appane, who lives about 80 yards from where the raid took place. "My 19-month-old was crying. Our eight-year-old said 'What is it? Are there more attacks?'"

She said she could hear gunfire on and off for over an hour, followed by "one really huge boom".

"It was when the woman exploded herself. It made our apartment shake it was so strong," Ms Appane said.