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When, where and how did Osama bin Laden die?

The terrorist mastermind was on the run for the best part of a decade, but US power is far-reaching and he was eventually found hiding in Pakistan.

US President Barack Obama (2nd L) and Vice President Joe Biden (L), along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Also pictured are Secreta
White House/Pete SouzaReuters

Hiding out in the small Pakistani city of Abbottabad, Osama bin Laden was on the run from the US. A ten-year manhunt had taken place. Many countries had been searched, prisoners tortured, and intelligence gathered.

After 'interrogating' captured al-Qaeda members in Guantanamo Bay, the US identified who they believed to be bin Laden's courier, tracking him to Abbottabad. After reconnaissance on a compound, it was suspected that bin Laden was hiding inside. With everything in place by 2011, the US made their strike on bin Laden's compound in one of the most famous historical events of the 2010s.

Operation Neptune Spear

On May 1, 2011, Navy SEALs of DevGru assaulted the compound where they believed bin Laden to be hiding. 79 soldiers and a dog were used in the operation. The US had not asked for permission from Pakistan, and preparations were made if Pakistani soldiers or guards were killed in the confrontation.

The first Black Hawk helicopter made a crash landing after damaging its tail rotor, but none of the crew were seriously injured. At once, its occupants disembarked and made their assault on the compound.

There are conflicting reports of what happened in the compound. Some tell of a firefight inside, while others say that there was no return fire and bin Laden and others were killed without reply.

Bin Laden was shot in his bedroom, another part of the story which is difficult to verify. SEAL celebrity Rob O'Neill claims in his book that he muscled to the front of the group before shooting bin laden twice in the head. He has made a successful career out of his claims during the operation. Other members of the team give different versions of events, and it is difficult to verify who did what when the SEALs were inside.

The leader of the team radioed command and said, "For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo" and then, after being prompted for confirmation, "Geronimo EKIA". Geronimo was the code-name for bin laden.

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In the White House Situation Room, Obama simply said, "We got him." The situation room is pictured at the top of the article.

24 hours later, bin Laden was buried at sea, as is Islamic custom.