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Paris attacks: French police raid home of suspected female suicide bomber
[AULNAY-SOUS-BOIS, France] French police investigating the Paris attacks on Thursday raided the home of the mother of a woman believed to have blown herself up during a massive police operation this week.
Two people died in Wednesday's seven-hour police siege targeting a building in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis: Islamic State jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud and a woman who detonated an explosive vest during the raid.
A source close to the probe said investigators believe the woman was 26-year-old Hasna Ait Boulahcen, a cousin of Abaaoud, the ringleader of the devastating attacks in the French capital on Friday night that left 129 people dead.
In a clip filmed by local residents as police stormed the Saint Denis building early on Wednesday, an exchange can be heard.
"Where is your boyfriend? Where is he?" shouts a police officer and a high-pitched voice can be heard shouting back "He's not my boyfriend". Then several explosions can be heard.
Speaking to AFP before the police raid on their home, both her mother and her brother said they recognised her voice from the recording immediately.
"It's brainwashing," her mother said of her daughter's radicalisation over the past six months.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, her brother said she had suddenly become radicalised about six months ago and began wearing a full-faced veil or niqab.
"She was unstable, she created her own bubble. She wasn't looking to study religion, I have never even seen her open a Koran," he told AFP.
A source close to the investigation said a raid was carried out at her mother's house in Aulnay-sous-Bois, a town northeast of Paris where Boulahcen had returned to live some six months ago.
"The whole neighbourhood is completely cordoned off by police. They are letting no one enter or go out," a resident of the town told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The woman lived at the home with her mother and other siblings until about three weeks ago.
"She decided to go and live with a friend in Drancy. On Wednesday I turned on my television and learned she had killed herself," said her brother.
Drancy is a town a short drive away from Aulnay-sous-Bois.
It has cropped up in the investigation as the home of former bus driver Samy Amimour who blew himself up at a concert hall where he and two others killed 89 people.
Another source close to the investigation said police had also raided the home of the alleged suicide bomber's father in the town of Creutzwald in northeastern France.
"The father has been away for several months" and his daughter left Creutzwald "years ago", said the source.