ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan — based on interviews with people living in the house where Osama bin Laden was killed, Pakistani authorities now believe that he had been living in the Abbottabad compound for "some months."
The Pakistani authorities' comments came as new details emerged about the men who built the house and were also killed, and as Pakistan broke its silence and denounced the raid as a "unauthorized unilateral action" that "cannot be taken as a rule."
Local residents said the two men who built the house identified themselves usually as Arshad and Tariq Khan, though they also went by the names of Rashid, Ahmed and Nadeem. They were ethnic Pashtuns from near Peshawar, Pakistan, residents said they were told. Most people who live in Abbottabad are not Pashtun.
Arshad, the older brother, was in his 40s, chubby and had a "goaty"-style beard, while the younger man, Tariq, had a mustache, residents said.
The two men explained the compound's unusually thick walls by saying they were involved in a violent feud in their home village — something not unusual in that region — and that they needed to prevent their women from being seen — in accordance with strict Islamic custom.
Residents here said the two were friendly, and often could be seen with children buying soft drinks and candy at a nearby shop. Though they didn't socialize with locals, they did take part in the local custom of visiting neighbors to offer condolences for a death or celebrate weddings and births, residents said.
They had one immutable rule, however — when children playing nearby accidentally knocked a ball into the compound, they weren't allowed to collect it.
Residents confirmed U.S. officials' claims that the house was built in 2005.
"I worked on the house construction as a laborer. There was nothing unusual about how it was built, except the size of the compound wall," said Rasheed, 32, a shopkeeper who said the brothers frequently visited his shop with five to seven children that he assumed were theirs. "Because of the wall, people thought that they were smugglers, not terrorists."
Rasheed said the wall, which is at least 12 feet tall and topped with barbed wire, is about 3 feet thick.
Pakistan security allowed a swarm of Pakistani and foreign reporters as far as the wall on Tuesday to inspect the house. Excited local children ran around collecting burned parts from an American helicopter that was destroyed after it became disabled during the raid.
Two security cameras that neighbors said had once been present were missing. Next to the house was a large compound, which was empty. This is where locals said two cows and some goats had been kept.
The house defied the luxurious description that U.S. officials had offered. Its paint was peeling and it appeared to have no air conditioning, which would have made it a sweltering place in the summer months for bin Laden.