US confirms four victims of Bin Laden raid were unarmed
Published 06/05/2011 | 05:00
FOUR of the five people killed when US Navy Seals stormed Osama bin Laden's hideout were unarmed, contrary to America's original version of events, it was disclosed last night.
The al-Qa'ida chief had weapons --an AK47 assault rifle and a pistol -- within arm's reach but did not get to them before being shot, officials said.
The White House had insisted US forces had been "engaged in a firefight throughout the operation" when they attacked the compound in Pakistan on Sunday night.
But rather than mounting the assault amid a hail of bullets, as was first suggested, Pentagon sources have now confirmed the only shots came from a sole gunman.
Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, Bin Laden's trusted courier, had been hiding behind a door in a guest house adjacent to the main building when the raiding party began their assault.
He opened fire, but was soon killed, after which no other shots were fired from within the compound during the 38-minute mission.
Despite this admission, official sources insisted US Navy Seals had faced a "threatening and hostile environment" as they scoured the compound looking for their target. But they were forced to confirm yesterday that none of the other four people killed -- including one of Bin Laden's sons and an unnamed woman -- were carrying weapons.
The latest inconsistencies will intensify theories that the Pentagon has not been entirely transparent about events.
The most recent account differs considerably from the information first released on Monday.
What is known is that, on the orders of President Barack Obama, a small team travelling in attack helicopters crossed the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan at around 8.00pm on Sunday evening.
As they arrived at the compound in Abbottabad, Bin Laden's courier, thought to be the person who unwittingly led the CIA to their target, opened fire. He was quickly shot dead and no American troops were wounded.
The team then moved through the compound as they hunted for Bin Laden.
Despite having spent months gathering intelligence, US officials have admitted they were not 100pc certain he was in the compound.
The team then encountered another man, thought to be al-Kuwaiti's brother, a close aide of the al-Qa'ida leader. Despite being unarmed, he was also shot dead.
An unidentified woman was also killed after officials claimed she was caught up in crossfire.
The White House also confirmed one of Bin Laden's sons was shot dead in the raid, but initially failed to give details, adding to the confusion by naming both Hamza and Khaled as victims; last night they confirmed it was Khaled.
Troops then entered the compound's main building and located Bin Laden and his wife in a room on the second floor. US officials insisted bin Laden did resist and had weapons within his reach. (© Daily Telegraph, London)