Manhunt turns Paris suburb into warzone

SAINT-DENIS, France -- When dozens of heavily-armed French police tried to raid an apartment building just north of Paris on Wednesday morning, the gun battle went on for an hour and a half.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer said it may have been so fierce because the mastermind of the Paris attacks himself -- Belgian ISIS operative Abdelhamid Abaaoud -- was believed to be in the building.

French police target alleged ISIS planner in raid near Paris

The owner of the apartment police raided told French BFMTV that he'd been asked for a favor from a friend, and that he let two people he didn't know stay there.

The owner has since been arrested, along with a handful of other suspects. None of those taken into custody have been identified. A female suspect blew up a suicide vest as police first entered the apartment.

Residents of the building cowered in their homes in the dark as the bullets flew and explosions rocked the neighborhood.

"My son was screaming," one man from the neighborhood told CBS News. "We threw ourselves under the bed (and stayed there) for an hour and a quarter, until the police ordered us out. They said the building was going to explode."

Alexia Desbos, who told CBS News she has lived in Saint-Denis for two years, said she woke up at 4:30 a.m. to feed the baby and heard explosions.

"I came out to the balcony and saw the police running in. Then I heard two more explosions around 7:30," she said.

The police were telling Desbos and her neighbors to remain inside.

"I thought it might have been related to the attacks on Friday. I was afraid. This is not a very safe neighborhood," she said.

An official at Saint-Denis City Hall told CBS News the university there was closed and students had been told not to come in Wednesday. Residents who work in down town Saint-Denis were also told to stay home, and all schools and the metro station linking the suburb to central Paris were closed.

Saint-Denis is a suburban town just north of Paris. It is home to the Stade de France, the football stadium attacked on Friday night by three militants armed with guns and bombs.

The town has a very hight immigrant population and there is high unemployment, particularly among young males. It was the flashpoint for riots in 2005 sparked by unrest among immigrant youths.