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A year on, Abbottabad residents recall the night when Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. commandos

posted 29 Apr 2012, 07:22 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 29 Apr 2012, 07:24 ]

Life goes on in Abbottabad town a year after al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. commandos in a daring night raid.

ABBOTTABAD, PAKISTAN (APRIL 29, 2012) (REUTERS) - A year after Osama bin Laden's death, residents of Pakistan's Abbottabad still recall the night when U.S forces killed the al Qaeda leader in a raid using helicopters in the darkness.

Bin Laden was killed at his house in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011 by U.S. commandos in a daring night raid that left the Pakistani military angry it had not been consulted.

While much of the world cheered the death, Pakistan fumed over what it called a violation of its sovereignty.

The compound where Bin Laden and his wives and children lived was guarded by the Pakistani army before it was demolished in February.

"It was a dreadful night when the U.S helicopters flew in here. The next day we knew that the world's most wanted man Osama bin laden was found here. This is a very safe area with the Pakistan military present here. It was a ghastly experience which still haunts us," said university student Jawad Nawaz, who lives near the compound.

He said he heard the gunfire and the sound of blasts from the compound as Navy SEALS attacked the building.

News of the demise of the man behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington was widely celebrated in the United States.

But it fanned anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world, particularly Pakistan, which was deeply embarrassed by the raid inside its own territory.

"It was not right to violate Pakistan's border like they (U.S commandos) did," said Nawaz

Pakistan security forces demolished bin Laden's compound, erasing a symbol of humiliation for Pakistan's military that has marked one of the most difficult periods in U.S.-Pakistan ties.

The United States has refused to release any of the pictures of bin Laden's body which was buried at sea, and scepticism about his death still swirls in Pakistan.

"Every good Pakistani will say Osama was never here. A drama was played here. These kinds of dramas are often played here in Pakistan. Osama was never here," said civil contractor, Rahimullah.

Pakistan deported the family this week, ending months of speculation about the fate of his wives and children who were detained by Pakistani security forces after the May 2 raid.

A Saudi official was quoted by the state Saudi Press Agency (SPA) as saying the family arrived in the kingdom on Thursday (April 26).

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad has banned its staff from restaurants and markets in the Pakistani capital for several days ahead of the anniversary of bin Laden's death.