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Firing, low-flying choppers in neighbours' night of hell

world Updated: May 03, 2011 00:37 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad

The two were called 'Bara Khan' and 'Chota Khan' by local residents.

These two men, believed to be from Swat or from the tribal areas, were the only point of contact between the area people and the residents of Shaikh House, the place where Osama bin Laden was residing.

The house itself is a collection of buildings surrounded by open fields and was believed to have been heavily guarded. It was fortified by a high wall on all sides.

Waqar Satti, a correspondent for the Express News, said that he managed to get into the compound at 4am following the American operation. At the time the buildings were deserted and there was no resident available.

The people of the area said that around 12 midnight, they had been asked by men in military uniforms to stay in their houses and turn off their lights.

"They told me that the next 30 or 40 minutes were like hell for them. There was shooting, there were low flying helicopters. We heard explosions and thought our end was near," recalled Satti.

After a couple of house, the military cordoned off the area and asked everyone to leave.

The choice of Abbottabad seemed a good one, commented Rahimullah Yousafzai, the resident editor of The News in Peshawar. Yousafzai said that there is no Taliban presence in the area, no military exercises and no drone attacks. It is a town that is dominated by the presence of the military which has an officer training school and also other installations.

"They were sitting in the lap of the military," said Yousafzai.

Area residents said that they were shocked to learn that the occupant of Shaikh House was none other than Osama Bin Ladin.

However, many have expressed doubts over this claim and said that they would only believe it when they saw the body.