PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani forces began demolishing the house where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces last May, in an unexplained move carried out in the dark of night.
The boundary wall and upper portion of the building in Abbottabad had already been destroyed by midnight, Karim Khan, a senior police official in the town, told Reuters.
“Yes, we have begun demolition work on the Osama house,” he said. “This is a joint operation of the local administration and security forces.”
He did not say why the compound was being demolished – a move that marks an ignominious end to the site of both one of the most daring raids in US special forces history, and one of the most embarrassing episodes for the Pakistani Army.
Bin Laden was killed in a daring night-time raid by commandos after a 10-year manhunt that spanned the globe.
On the moonless night of May 2, Navy SEALs swooped in on specially modified Blackhawk choppers, forced their way to the top floor of the house and killed bin Laden with shots to the head and the chest.
During the raid, one of the helicopters was damaged and forced to land, leaving the SEAL team to pile into the remaining chopper along with the al Qaeda chief’s body. The Pakistani army says it never knew what happened.
While the raid was lauded in the United States, Pakistan reacted angrily to what it said was a violation of its sovereignty.
Residents said the compound, which had been off-limits to townspeople since the raid, was surrounded by a heavy contingent of troops and at least five construction cranes.
“After arriving in the area, they cordoned the entire town from all sides and didn’t allow local residents to come or go out of the area,” local resident Momin Khan said.