Bin Laden killing casts doubt on Pakistan loyalties

ABBOTTABAD, May 2, 2011 (AFP) – The killing of Osama bin Laden by US forces at a palatial villa near the capital raised fresh questions Monday over Pakistan’s loyalties in the war against Al-Qaeda. For years, Western officials believed that the world’s most wanted man, with a $25 million price on his head, was hiding in some of the most impenetrable terrain on earth, in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous northwest tribal belt.

But instead of lurking in a remote cave — out of reach of intelligence on the ground — bin Laden was found in relative luxury less than two hours’ drive from Islamabad in a town where Pakistan trains some of its finest officers.

An AFP reporter at the scene said the imposing house appears to be a three-storey building surrounded by towering perimeter walls, located in a middle-class neighbourhood of Abbottabad.

“Abbottabad is a garrison city and located near a Pakistani military academy, and people will raise questions how they managed to get there,” said Rahimullah Yusufzai, a prominent expert on militancy.

Pakistan and the United States said the operation was conducted by US forces, and although Pakistani military were out in force in Abbottabad on Monday one o