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IN PICS: Osama's safehouse is RAZED to the ground

Last updated on: February 27, 2012 16:15 IST

IN PICS: Osama's safehouse is RAZED to the ground

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad

Bulldozers on Monday razed to the ground the three-storey house in Pakistan, where the most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden hid for more than five years, dogging the biggest manhunt in the world.

Razing the building, where bin Laden was shot dead by United States Special Forces last year on May 2, Pakistan has destroyed a symbol of the country's failure to trace the al-Qaeda chief.

Bulldozers and heavy machinery completely tore down the building and other structures within a compound located about 800 yards from the elite Pakistan Military Academy in  the garrison town of Abbottabad.

Local residents said the walls surrounding the compound were still standing. Trucks removed debris from the site as the heavy machinery pulled down the structures.

The demolition had begun late on Saturday night amid tight security.

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Image: Children play cricket near the boundary wall of the building where bin Laden was killed, after it was demolished in Abbottabad
Photographs: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

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Scores of policemen and army soldiers were deployed around Bilal Town, the suburb where the compound was located.

"The whole structure has been razed to the ground. It actually took some time as the process of demolition and removing the rubble was going on simultaneously," an unnamed security official was quoted as saying by Geo News channel.

Local residents said some debris was still present within the compound and expressed hope that their suffering would end now that the compound had been demolished.

The compound had aroused curiosity and attracted a large number of visitors, the local residents said. There was no official word on who had ordered the demolition or its timing.

The unnamed official quoted by Geo News said a number of meetings were held to decide what should be done with the compound since his killing, but the structure could not be demolished due to differences of opinion among officials.

"It was finally decided to demolish the building on Saturday night," the official said.

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Image: Policemen walk past the boundary wall of the building where bin Laden was killed after it was demolished in Abbottabad
Photographs: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

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A recent rocket attack on the Pakistan Military Academy had caused serious concern among military authorities and the local administration and strict security measures were put in place for the demolition, a police officer told Geo News.

Reports said security forces would remain deployed at the site where bin Laden reportedly moved into in 2005. A team of US Navy Seals flew in by helicopter from Afghanistan and killed bin Laden and later dumped his body at sea to ensure that there was no shrine to attract jihadis.

The army occupied the compound soon after the US raid, and several journalists and diplomats, including the Danish Ambassador, were detained when they tried to approach it in recent months.

The compound was surrounded by walls that ranged from 10 feet to 18 feet in height.

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Image: A policeman looks on as the building is demolished in Abbottabad
Photographs: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

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The land for the compound was bought for about $50,000 by Arshad Khan, one of two al-Qaida couriers killed with bin Laden.

The walls of the compound were higher and thicker than those of every house in Bilal Town. The compound consisted of three portions -- a big open area for farming, a built up structure and a lawn on the north side that was smaller than the farming area.

Pakistani officials have said 27 people, including bin Laden's three wives and 16 children, were living in the three-storey building and an adjoining guesthouse.

The US raid and bin Laden's presence in a garrison town deeply embarrassed Pakistan's powerful security establishment. Pakistan-US ties have not yet recovered from the blow of the raid against bin Laden and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ordered a parliamentary review to reset the relationship.


Image: A policeman walks towards the partially demolished compound
Photographs: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

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