Pictures have emerged of Western Europe’s first female suicide bomber, Hasna Aitboulahcen.
Aitboulahcen, 26, a cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud – the man believed to be have coordinated last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris – detonated a vest packed with explosives as anti-terror police attempted to enter their hideout on the Rue du Corbillon in Saint-Denis, north Paris.
Abaaoud and one other suspect were killed in the attack, and seven others were arrested.
Some witnesses described seeing a woman with long blonde hair blow herself up amid the chaos, triggering a long and vicious exchange of gunfire in which over 5,000 rounds were fired. The explosion is reported to have injured a number of police officers and killed a dog.
An eyewitness, known only as Christian, told Le Parisien:
During a 10 or 15 minute lull in the shooting I heard a woman shouting “help, help, help me!” The police asked her to identify herself, and to show herself. She held her hands up but she didn’t reveal her face. Then the bomb went off.
According to the Guardian, Aitboulahcen grew up in greater Paris, attended the Paul Verlaine University in Metz, then ran her own building company, Beko Construction, until 2012. Her friends have described her as an extrovert with the nickname ‘cowgirl’ because she loved wearing big cowboy hats.
Her parents moved to France from Morocco in 1973, they later separated and she lived with her mother in Clichy-la Garenne, a suburb of north west Paris. It is reported that she was ‘on the radar’ of the French Intelligence services.