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Bin Laden compound halfway razed

Pakistan is more than halfway finished demolishing the three-storey compound where Osama bin Laden was killed by US commandos last May, erasing a concrete reminder of a painful and embarrassing chapter in the country's history.

Rings of police kept spectators and journalists away from the compound, which the government began tearing down on Saturday night under powerful floodlights without any prior notice.

Pakistan was outraged by the covert American raid in the north-western town of Abbottabad because it was not told about it beforehand - a decision the US explained was driven by concerns that someone in the government might tip off bin Laden.

The terror leader's death was cheered across the globe, but many Pakistanis were angry that the US violated its territory and that its troops were powerless to stop American soldiers from attacking a compound located next to the country's elite military academy.

Backhoes - heavy machines with strong crane-like digging arms - have torn down the tall boundary walls around bin Laden's compound and destroyed more than half of the main building, where the al-Qaida chief lived for years with his wives and children.

Pakistani officials have declined to say why they decided to begin demolition.

Residents of the normally sleepy town of Abbottabad were divided on what the government should do with the compound in the aftermath of the raid.

Some thought it should be destroyed, but others believed it should be turned into a tourist attraction to help the town earn money.

There was always the danger, however, that it could also draw al-Qaida supporters.

American officials said they buried bin Laden's body at sea to avoid giving his followers a burial place that could become a makeshift shrine.


From Belfast Telegraph