Osama bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed by US commandos in a raid on his compound in Pakistan, the White House confirmed Tuesday, dpa reported.
The White House had previously said the Navy SEALs were willing to take bin Laden alive if he surrendered, but instead they encountered resistance. Spokesman Jay Carney said it was a "highly volatile firefight."
"We were prepared to capture him if that was possible," Carney said. "We expected a great deal of resistance. We were met with a great deal of resistance."
Meanwhile, Carney said the White House continued to carefully deliberate whether to release photos of a deceased bin Laden. He said there are concerns that publication of the photos could be inflammatory in the Middle East and other parts of the world.
"It is fair to say it is a gruesome photograph," Carney said.
Bin Laden was shot in the head during the raid in Abbottabad, which lies about 60 kilometres north of Islamabad. Media reports said the bullet wound was above his left eye.