ABBOTTABAD - Pakistani security forces pushed ahead on Sunday, February 26, with the demolition of slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad.
"Yes, we have begun demolition work on the Osama house," Karim Khan, a senior police official in the town, told Reuters.
"This is a joint operation of the local administration and security forces."
The demolition, which began late Saturday, continued overnight and bulldozers were busy demolishing the building as dawn broke in Abbottabad's suburban Bilal Town neighborhood.
Witnesses said troops blocked access to the compound, brought in heavy machinery and barred journalists from taking pictures or coming close to the site.
The compound has been under the security forces' control since US troops killed bin Laden, his son and three guards in a ground operation on his mansion in Abbottabad, 100km (62 miles) north-east of Islamabad in May, 2011.
The killing has brought Islamabad into the eye of storm over violating Pakistani sovereignty by US troops.
Pakistani officials have insisted they knew nothing of the raid, with military and civilian leaders issuing a strong rebuke to the US.
Before his death, Bin Laden was the subject of a search since the US troops invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
For a whole decade after the 9/11 attacks, US forces launched a large-scale assault on the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan.
Al-Qaeda vowed that the death of their leader does not mean the end of their campaign, promising to continue their fight against the United States.
The sudden demolition of the compound where Bin Laden lived for years raised questions about the reasons that pushed Pakistan to take the move.
"I think they finally decided to get rid of it as it was of no use," a senior government official in Abbottabad told Reuters, asking for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Another senior official said residents faced numerous problems due to security measures since the raid, saying it was better to remove it altogether and let the people live their lives.
Residents confirmed that the compound was surrounded since bin Laden's killing by a heavy contingent of troops and at least five construction cranes.
"After arriving in the area, they cordoned the entire town from all sides and didn't allow local residents to come or go out of the area," local resident Momin Khan said.
He said residents believed the army would use explosives to blow up the building but that did not happen.
"They installed heavy lights around the building and started first demolishing the boundary walls. The area was completely cordoned off and there was no media in the area," he said.
"Local residents tried to capture pictures of the demolition process of the famous building but many of them couldn't succeed due to dark."
However, some referred it to Pakistani fears that the compound was becoming an object of fascination among Pakistani people.The compound attracted hundreds of visitors daily soon after bin Laden's death and at the time officials feared his final hiding place could become a shrine or a tourist spot unless the military destroyed it.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net