Pak soldiers patrol near a compound where it is believed bin Laden lived in Abbottabad
Islamabad: Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was hiding in a massive compound, worth a million US dollars, located just 800 yards from the Pakistan Military Academy near Abbottabad city, in the country's northwest when he was killed in a pre-dawn raid by US special forces today.
Local residents said the compound was bought by a man they knew as Arshad Khan, believed to a resident of Charsadda in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa tribal region.
A two-storey building was constructed in the compound in 2005 and those living inside did not mingle with local residents of the area near Abbottabad, 120 km from Pakistan's capital Islamabad.
Pakistani troops sealed off the compound and blocked all roads leading to it hours after the operation that resulted in the death of bin Laden, one of his sons, two suspected couriers and a woman who was being used as a human shield.
Two women and four children, described as bin Laden's wives and offspring, were taken away from the compound.
Footage on television showed a compound with white walls about 12 feet high located amidst agricultural fields surrounded by Pakistani troops.
Earlier footage aired on TV channels showed flames leaping out of the compound from a helicopter that was destroyed in the raid carried out at about 1.15 am.
Local residents said three helicopters had participated in what Pakistan's Foreign Office described as an "intelligence driven operation" by US forces.
They said they had heard several explosions and heavy gunfire.
The people inside the compound fired at the helicopters with automatic weapons and rocket launchers, reports said.
Powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had contended during an address at a passing out parade at the Pakistan Military Academy on April 23 that the "terrorist backbone had been broken".
Bin Laden's killing at a compound near a city that is home to the military academy, a brigade and thousands of army personnel could prove to be an embarrassment to the Pakistani military, observers said.
It could not immediately be ascertained how long bin Laden, the world's most wanted man, had been in Abbottabad, which is a two-hour drive from Islamabad.
In January, Indonesian Al Qaeda operative Umar Patek was captured by Pakistani intelligence operatives in Abbottabad.
US intelligence became suspicious about the compound in Abbottabad in August last year.
It was eight times larger than other homes in the area and access to the compound was severely restricted, with elaborate security and 12 to 18-foot walls topped with barbed wire, ABC News reported.
The compound had no phone service or televisions and the main building had few windows and a seven foot wall for privacy.
Abbottabad, a historic city named after Major James Abbott, a British military officer who founded it in 1853, is a key city on the Karakoram Highway that connects Pakistan and China. It has been a major garrison since the British era.