By The Associated Press
ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan (AP) – Pakistani authorities have reduced the house where Osama bin Laden lived for years before he was killed by U.S. commandos to rubble, destroying a concrete symbol of the country’s association with one of the world’s most reviled men.
Workers completed the demolition job in the garrison town of Abbottabad in northwest Pakistan on Monday.
The al-Qaida leader moved into the three-story house in 2005. Acting on intelligence gathered by the CIA, a team of U.S. commandos flew in by helicopter from Afghanistan and killed bin Laden on May 2 before dumping his body at sea hours later.
The operation left Pakistan’s army in the awkward position of explaining why it had not detected the U.S. raid, and how bin Laden was able to live in the town without its knowledge. U.S. officials have said they have found no evidence that senior Pakistani officials were in the know about bin Laden’s whereabouts.
Mechanized backhoe vehicles and construction workers began pulling down the house on Saturday night, working under floodlights.
An Associated Press photographer said Monday the job was completed, save for a section of its boundary walls.
The house stood less than half a mile (one kilometer) from one of the Pakistan army’s top training academies.
Authorities never allowed journalists inside the building, and starting from a few days after the raid stopped them from even getting close to it.
Officials did not explain why the house was destroyed. Some residents of Abbottabad thought it should be a tourist attraction, although given the sensitivities surrounding the property it was hard to see the government developing it as one.
Property documents show the land was owned by a man who later served as a courier for bin Laden. He is believed to have been killed during the raid.
Last year, several foreigners were briefly detained for trying to see it, including the Danish ambassador and his wife. U.S. commandos took computers, books and other intelligence materials from the building after killing bin Laden, and American officials were allowed to visit it in the weeks that followed.
Al-Qaida-inspired or affiliated groups have killed thousands in the country over the last few years.
Later Monday a bomb exploded outside a rally held by northwestern Pakistan’s dominant political party, killing five people, police officer Hussain Khan said.
The blast took place in the town of Nowshera in the northwest’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa district.
Khan said the device went off when a motorcade of officials from the Awami National Party was leaving the building.
The province’s Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti had addressed the meeting but had left the venue by helicopter.