Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden might have been killed by one of his own guards, in line with his will to prevent his capture, during a raid by US forces near the garrison city of Abbottabad in northwest Pakistan, according to a media report on Tuesday.
US officials have said that the world's most wanted man was killed with one or two shots to the head, when he resisted after American special forces stormed a compound near Abbottabad where he was hiding.
However, an unnamed official told the Dawn newspaper that the mastermind of the most devastating attack on US soil "might have been killed by one of his own guards in line with his will to avert his capture". "From the scene of the gun battle it doesn't look like he could have been killed at point blank range from such a close angle, while offering resistance," said the official who visited the scene of the assault soon after the departure of the US team from the compound in Thanda Choa or Bilal Town, a stone’s throw from the Pakistan Military Academy.
One of bin Laden's sons, two couriers and a woman being used as a human shield were also killed in the pre-dawn raid, US officials said. Details about the US raid on the large compound surrounded by unusually high walls are still emerging.
US helicopters were hovering over the area at around 12.30 am on Sunday and it took the "US assault team of 25 Navy SEALs and CIA hit men" about 40 minutes to clear the area and take away bin Laden’s body, officials told the Dawn. One of the two helicopters involved in the assault "went down during action" and an official who visited the scene said there was no evidence to suggest that it might have been hit by a rocket or shot from the ground.
"There was no evidence of the helicopter having been shot down. From the wreckage it appears to be more a case of a crash," he said. A loud explosion heard during the gun battle might have been caused by the assault team destroying the helicopter, the official said.
Contrary to the US claim, the official said three of bin Laden's guards were killed. The body of one guard, described as an Afghan or a tribesman, was lying in the compound. The bodies of two guards were found in the living quarters.
The US team took away only bin Laden’s body, leaving behind a number of women and children. Bin Laden's two wives, both in their early 50s and one of them of Yemeni origin, were among those left behind. A third woman, wounded in the attack, was taken to a military hospital.