Pakistan’s intelligence chief on Monday confirmed the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and one of his sons in a joint operation by U.S. and Pakistani forces.

Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the director general of Inter-Services Intelligence, told Duniya television that bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, about 60 kilometres north-east of the capital Islamabad.

He was killed along with three guards and a son whose name was not given. Six other sons, three wives and four aides were arrested, Mr. Pasha said.

The operation started just after midnight and continued for hours, an intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

“The actual operation was conducted by U.S. special forces and Pakistani forces were backing them.” Residents in Abbottabad, a town of around 200,000 people, said the operation started just after midnight when three helicopters tried to land in the neighbourhood Bilal Town, about 1 kilometre from the military academy.

“First I heard the sounds of firearms, then I saw a helicopter catching fire and crashing into a residential area,” said Ghulam Rasool, a security guard at a local market, who saw the scene from a distance. “Two planes were also flying overhead.” Pakistani forces have cordoned off the area and a search operation is being conducted.

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