US revises story of Osama’s killing; says he was not armed

May 4th, 2011 - 8:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 4 (IANS) Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was not armed, but put up resistance during the US raid, US officials say offering a revised narrative about the operation that killed the world’s most wanted terrorist.

CNN citing an unnamed US official said bin Laden “didn’t hold his hands up and surrender.”

Officials had earlier said that bin Laden was an active participant in the firefight during the 40-minute raid on his compound in Pakistan, implying that he was armed and gave the US Navy SEALs little choice but to shoot him down.

Bin Laden was not armed during the raid, but he put up resistance when US forces entered the compound, the White House said Tuesday offering new details about the raid.

US military personnel arrived on two helicopters, attacked the residence and started moving methodically from room to room, said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. They were engaged in a firefight throughout the operation, he said.

Besides the bin Laden family, two other families lived in the compound, according to Carney. On the first floor of the building, two Al Qaeda couriers were killed in addition to a woman caught in the crossfire, he said.

Bin Laden and his family lived on the second and third floors, and they were cleared last, with bin Laden killed toward the end of the siege, Carney said.

A woman in the room with him, believed to be bin Laden’s wife, rushed US forces and was shot in the leg but not killed, said Carney.

Officials had earlier said that bin Laden was shielded during the shooting by women, including his wife.

There were no armed guards around the compound, the official said.

CIA Director Leon Panetta told PBS “NewsHour” that the original plan was for two Black Hawk helicopters, carrying 25 people, to go into the compound.

The first was to go over a courtyard, while the second was to go over the roof. But the first helicopter had problems and had to set down on the ground, prompting the second one to do the same, he said.

“Both teams immediately went into the compound itself. They had to breach about three or four walls in order to get in there,” he said.

“They were able to do that and they immediately then went into the compound itself and fought their way up to the third floor.”

Officials called the US operation a surgical raid-and said it was conducted by a small team and designed to minimise collateral damage.

Five of the approximately two dozen people in the compound were killed-the two couriers, the woman, bin Laden and his son, said the US official cited by CNN.

Panetta told PBS he didn’t think bin Laden said anything to US forces before he was killed.

“To be frank, I don’t think he had a lot of time to say anything. It was a firefight going up that compound and by the time they got to the third floor and found bin Laden, I think this was all split second action on the part of the SEALs,” he said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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