Pakistani security forces on Saturday began demolishing the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in a covert US raid in May in the northwestern garrison town of Abbottabad, police and witnesses said.
“Two bulldozers are engaged, the demolition work is in progress, it is being done by security forces, including troops,” a police official on the spot told AFP by telephone on condition of anonymity.
The compound where bin Laden lived for several years has been under the control of the security forces since the Al-Qaeda leader was killed by US Navy SEALs in a covert operation without informing Islamabad.
“I am on security duty, I can see dust is coming out of the building,” the official said.
Police have been deployed at the outer cordon and army troops are around the compound, manning the inner cordon, he said.
“We have received orders to be here,” another police officer, Sameen Jan, said, confirming that the “compound is being demolished.”
Witnesses said troops blocked access to the compound, brought heavy machinery and barred journalists from taking pictures or coming close to the site.
Pakistani troops fighting against Taliban and Al-Qaeda affiliates in the tribal belt routinely destroy the homes of militants.
That the compound was a mile (less than two kilometres) from the Pakistan Military Academy — the country’s equivalent of West Point and Sandhurst — had made it even less likely that the armed forces would want to keep the villa intact.
The bin Laden raid humiliated Pakistan’s powerful military, exposing it to charges of complicity or incompetence after it emerged that the world’s most wanted man had lived on the doorstep of its premier academy for years.
Pakistani-US ties drastically deteriorated over the raid and relations fell to new lows over the November killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers by NATO helicopters.