3 May 2011

Pakistan facing tough questions over bin Laden

10:49 pm on 3 May 2011

Pakistan is facing embarrassing questions from the United States over how Osama bin Laden was able to hide there before he was killed by an American assault team.

The 54-year-old leader of al Qaeda leader was shot in the head and killed in a raid by American special forces at a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

The revelation that bin Laden had been holed up in the luxury compound threatens to exacerbate US tensions with the Pakistanis, who had not been told of the raid in advance, Reuters reports.

United States president Barack Obama announced that bin Laden was dead on Sunday night local time.

The body of the world's most powerful symbol of Islamist militancy was buried at sea after a Muslim funeral on an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea. No precise location has been given.

Some irate lawmakers in America are wondering how it was possible for bin Laden to live in a populated area without anyone of authority knowing about it or sanctioning his presence, possibly for years.

They say it is time to review the billions in aid the US provides Pakistan.

The White House counter-terrorism chief, John Brennan, says it is inconceivable that bin Laden did not have a support system that allowed him to remain in the country for an extended period.

However, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari says bin Laden's whereabouts was not known to his government.

Writing in The Washington Post, Mr Zadari also has dismissed any notion that Pakistan is failing to take action against militants on its territory.

Mr Zadari says it is simply untrue to suggest that his country - as badly hit as any by Osama bin Laden and his militants with 30,000 civilian deaths - was sluggish or unwilling to track down activists.

A former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, says there is no reason to think Pakistan knew where bin Laden was all these years.

Anti-US demonstration in Quetta

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in Pakistan's south-western city of Quetta to denounce America, burn US flags and pay homage to Osama bin Laden.

The US state department has issued a global travel alert to its citizens warning there could be an outbreak of anti-American violence following the killing.

Pakistan's main Taliban faction has promised to avenge his death and attack US and Pakistani governments and their security forces, the ABC reports.

The US has closed its embassy in Islamabad and consulates in three other cities until further notice.