Osama Bin Laden compound demolished in Pakistan

Bulldozers arrived without warning to demolish the compound

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Pakistan has demolished the compound where US forces killed Osama Bin Laden in the north-western city of Abbottabad.

Work began late on Saturday. Bulldozers and pneumatic machinery could be heard as the demolition continued.

The al-Qaeda leader was shot dead at the compound in the garrison town on 2 May 2011. He had been hiding there for several years.

No official reason for the demolition has been given.

Residents around the three-storey compound have speculated that the authorities do not want it turned into a shrine.

But it is more likely that the demolition is part of a process by the government to put the whole embarrassing episode behind them, says the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Abbottabad.

An official told AFP news agency that only the wall of the compound remained intact, and the three-storey building ''was razed to the ground''.

''The outer wall will remain intact for the moment and we don't know the plan for the future. First we will remove the debris," the official said.

'Should be razed'

Journalists and residents were prevented from getting too close to the compound by a ring of several hundred police and soldiers as work got under way.

Bulldozers worked under floodlights to smash through the concrete structure, with trucks carrying away the debris.

Officials say the compound was handed over by the military to the civil authorities before the operation started.

They say the demolition was decided soon after the May raid, but it was put off when the government set up a judicial commission to investigate the operation by US forces.

"Since the commission has almost completed its work and did not need the compound for any further investigation, it was decided it should be razed," an official said.

Stealth operation

Osama Bin Laden is said to have lived in the compound with his wives and children for several years - raising questions as to how he could have remained in the garrison town for so long without the Pakistani government knowing about it.

On 2 May, a team of US special forces flew from Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hiding place during the night in stealth helicopters in a secret operation not disclosed to Islamabad beforehand.

The troops swept through the buildings within the high-walled enclosure and shot dead a total of five people, including Bin Laden.

Some 40 minutes later they left, taking with them Bin Laden's body and a hoard of computer data devices and other information containing intelligence about al-Qaeda and Bin Laden's activities.

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