Islamabad, May 3: About 200 Pakistan Army men provided ground support while two Pakistani helicopters provided aerial cover during the Kill Osama Operation, top level official sources told TheNation.
Laden was killed in an early Monday morning operation carried out by 35 US Marines.
About 200 Pakistan Army men provided ground support, top level official sources told The Nation.
During the operation, four helicopters of the Pakistan Army hovered over the fortress-like hideout of al-Qaeda chief at Thanda Choh, a relatively isolated area of Abbottabad's otherwise posh locality Bilal Town that is barely a kilometre away from the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul.
After completing aerial assessments, the four Pakistan Army helicopters were replaced by two US helicopters, ten minutes later.
Initially, the US military personnel opened fire at the outer wall of Osama's hideout, which was retaliated by the house inmates with heavy gunfire.
After almost twenty minutes of cross-firing, the US forces directly targeted the house with sophisticated bombs, eventually killing Osama, his eight bodyguards, seven close aides and an unspecified number of family members including a young son, children and two wives.
When the residents of the area, upon hearing heavy gunshots and explosions, came out of their homes or went up to the rooftops of their houses, Pakistani soldiers in helicopters threw search lights, instructing them to stay indoors.
Besides initial aerial support, the Pakistan Army provided ground support by deploying ground troops within a radius of one kilometre of the operation area.
The operation continued till 2: 30am. PMA top officials at Kakul did not disclose for several hours the name of the locality where the operation had taken place.
Till Monday morning, PMA officials maintained that a Pakistan Army helicopter had crashed near Bilal Town while carrying out routine strategic exercises. Not before the Monday noon, it could be confirmed that Osama bin Laden was killed in the military operation.
Osama's ‘neighbours' living in the vicinity of the hideout where al-Qaeda's top man had been hiding since 2006 shared some interesting details regarding the mystery involving the particular house.
The 11-kanal house was reportedly bought by al-Qaeda back in 2006 from a resident of Peshawar. The compound wall of this huge house covers 1,600 square feet.
Parallel to this wall, an adjacent wall, with a gap of almost two feet between both the walls, had been constructed.
The gap between the two walls was to be filled with bombproof material. Osama's men had very rare, restricted and covert movement and they would use a white Suzuki carry van to move outside the home.
The 'neighbours' did not have even the slightest clue that the world's most wanted man was living next to them.
The security agencies found an outdated manual national identity card (MNIC) number 13977413092 belonging to one Muhammad Hassan from Charsadda. The photocopy of the same card was used to purchase land for Osama's Thanda Choh hideout.
Madrassa Safina Muhammadia is located a few yards away from Obama's destroyed hideout but Osama reportedly did not develop any contact with the madrassa administration to keep his stay secret.
Meanwhile, Sahir Elahi, an eyewitness who lives a few yards from the place where the operation took place, doubted if any helicopter had crashed.
“We were the first to reach the spot – by that time the security forces had not cordoned off the area. The wreckage of any helicopter was nowhere to be seen. I think it was a bomb that was dropped by the US forces,” he said.
“It was like Doomsday, we heard heavy explosions that shook us. It was followed by heavy gunfire and similar explosions; we couldn't sleep till dawn,” he added.