The Pakistani army and police quickly sealed all roads near the large, three story, cream- colored house that sits on more than an acre of land surrounded by a high cement wall topped with concertina wire. A solitary soldier stood guard on the house’s roof while teams of the CIA and Pakistani intelligence went over the house and the expansive grounds with a fine tooth comb looking for more forensic evidence that could lead to more anti-terror operations. But some journalists, including a Newsweek reporter, got close enough to the house by walking through a series of back alleyways running through the Bilal Town neighborhood of relatively new and expensive multi-storied houses.

Bin Laden had picked one of the best and most upscale neighborhoods in town. From the third floor of one of those houses, the bin Laden compound was clearly visible about one-quarter of a mile away across an expanse of vegetable and wheat fields. The security forces had erected a red wall of plastic or cloth sheeting to block from view a vacant lot that is located just in front of the bin Laden house’s high outer wall. Neighbors say the security forces put up the cloth barrier at first light to hide the wreckage of an American Apache helicopter gunship, which had crashed during the operation to capture or kill bin Laden, that was either brought down by mechanical troubles or gunfire from inside the compound.

Several neighbors who talked to Newsweek separately and who claim to have witnessed part of the operation from their rooftops or second story windows told slightly differing stories. But they all basically agreed that there were three helicopters involved; that they heard an exchange of gunfire between the helicopters, or the attacking ground force, and bin Laden and his protectors; that one of the choppers was shot down or crashed, causing a loud explosion and fire; and that the entire operation lasted about 40 minutes at most. None of their accounts can be independently verified.


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