Inside Pakistan's Hill Town Where Bin Laden Died

Residents of the Pakistani town of Abbottabad were jolted from their sleep on Sunday night by the boom of explosions, unaware the hunt for the world's most wanted man was coming to a bloody end in their sleepy hills.

Helicopter-borne U.S. forces swooped on a compound on the edge of Abbottabad in the middle of the night and killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who was hiding there, nearly a decade after he masterminded the September 11 attacks. "We rushed to the rooftop and saw flames near that house. We also heard some gunshots," said Mohammad Idrees, who lives about 400 meters from the compound.

"Soon after the blast, we saw military vehicles rushing to the site."

Pakistani soldiers stopped reporters approaching the compound, which they had cordoned off with a red canvas screen.

A helicopter covered by a tarpaulin sat in a nearby field. Later, Pakistani soldiers dismantled the aircraft and took it away in pieces on trucks. U.S. officials earlier said a U.S. helicopter was lost due to a mechanical problem during the operation but that its crew safely evacuated.

Bin Laden's three-storey residence, called a mansion by U.S. officials, stood fourth in a row of about a dozen houses. A satellite dish could be seen in the compound, which itself was surrounded by high walls.

Television pictures from inside the house showed blood stains smeared across a floor next to a large bed. Nearby, a row of medicine was lined up on a shelf and some shirts hung in a cupboard.

Pakistani TV stations also showed a picture purportedly of bin Laden shot in the head, his mouth pulled back in a grimace. Reuters pictures editors determined the image was a fake after discovering a number of inconsistencies in the picture.

Another resident, Nasir Khan, said commandos had encircled the compound as three helicopters hovered overhead.