Bin Laden fired his weapon during fight: Reports

The special forces personnel swooped down on the compound where bin Laden was holed up guarded by his ultra loyal Arab bodyguards in a pre-dawn operation killing the dreaded terrorist, US officials said.

The news of the slaying of the world's most prominent terror mastermind was broken to the world by US President Barack Obama, who made the announcement live from White House.

"Bin Laden, 54, is dead and his body is in US custody," President Obama said at half past 11 midnight US time after initial story had been broken by news channels. Though it was dark, crowds massed outside White House chanting 'USA, USA'.

Besides the al-Qaeda chief who carried a bounty of USD 25 million, two couriers one of whom was his son and the other a woman, reportedly used as a human shields, were killed in the operation, unnamed American officials were quoted as saying by ABC News.

First reports said that it was through these couriers that bin Laden had been traced.

Other women and children present in the compound were not harmed, according to Pakistani officials.

An American helicopter was destroyed by US Navy Seals after it was damaged and crashed during the operation that targeted a large compound in Bilal Town area near Abbottabad, 120 km from Islamabad.

There was no word from the Pakistani government or military on the operation.

Two US helicopters swept into the compound at 1:30 am and 2 am and 20 to 25 Navy Seals under the command of the Joint Special Operations Command stormed the compound in cooperation with the CIA and engaged bin Laden and his men in a firefight, US officials told ABC News.

Bin Laden fired his weapon during the fight, the US officials said.

The Americans took bin Laden's body into custody after the firefight and confirmed his identity.

One of the US helicopters was damaged during the operation and the troops decided to destroy it themselves with explosives.

Several Pakistani news channels beamed grainy footage of a burning helicopter on the empty lawn of the compound.

They also beamed footage of the compound surrounded by Pakistani troops this morning.

Pakistani troops also conducted a house-to-house search in the area, reports said.