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Bin Laden: Not exactly a neighbour from hell

When local kids hit cricket balls into his compound, he wouldn’t give them back – but offered the children money instead. That’s just one of the intriguing pictures to emerge of life in Abbottabad.

Local people and media gather outside the perimeter wall and sealed gate into the compound and a house where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught and killed late Monday, in Abbottabad
Local people and media gather outside the perimeter wall and sealed gate into the compound and a house where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught and killed late Monday, in Abbottabad
Image: Anjum Naveed/AP/Press Association Images

OSAMA BIN Laden lived in a “quiet, middle class neighbourhood”, where he was an invisible presence, reports suggest.

As the first international journalists descend on Abbottabad, fascinating details about life in the town where Bin Laden is believed to have lived are beginning to emerge.

Channel 4′s Lindsey Hilsum tweeted that a neighbour told her that when local kids “hit a cricket ball into the compound, they weren’t allowed to retrieve it, but were given money instead.” Hilsum also revealed that an ad for a girl’s school is painted on his 20 foot high compound wall.

There is disbelief amongst Bin Laden’s neighbours, she adds, tweeting that:

Several people living near #binladendon’t believe it was him. They say they need to see the body.

But the Telegraph’s political commentator Peter Oborne says it’s otherwise business as usual in the “cleanest town I have ever seen in Pakistan…full of tidy gardens, whitewashed walls and tidily pruned hedgerows”:

The most important death of the 21st century so far seems to have made little impact in Abbottabad.

The shops are open, selling fruit, groceries and kebabs. The restaurants are full as local people sit in the open air smoking cigarettes and munching naan bread.

There is no tension in the air.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press’s Nahal Toosi has been tweeting from inside Osama’s compound, revealing that Bin Laden – or at least his servants – lived in far from luxurious surroundings.

I am in a bldg across from cpd. Looks like servants quarters. Piles of clothes, pillows on floor. Broken clock on ground. Stopped at 2:20.

There’s also moldy lentil stew in a pot, half eaten bread and an old TV set.

Toosie adds that two men – who called themselves Tariq and Arshad, claimed to be brothers or cousins and spoke multiple languages – were the only people seen coming or going from the house.

She describes seeing uniformed children heading off to school – including a little girl wearing a veil … and a Hannah Montana backpack.

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About the author:

Jennifer O'Connell

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