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Where bin Laden went down, a theme park to rise up

9:30 PM, Feb 4, 2013   |    comments
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(NBC NEWS) -- Move over Orlando, here comes Abbottabad.

Pakistan's tourism officials have announced plans to build a $30 million amusement park on the outskirts of the Himalayan foothills town that gained worldwide attention as the place where U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden.

The 50-acre site will include a zoo, restaurants, water sports, miniature golf as well as rock climbing and paragliding, officials said.

Officials in north Kyber Pakhtunkwa province denied to Sky News that the project was a way to improve the town's image after the bin Laden raid, saying the goal is simply to boost tourism.

"This project has nothing to do with Osama bin Laden," Syed Aqil Shah, the provincial minister for tourism and sports, told Sky News.

Jamaluddin Khan, the deputy provincial minister for tourism, told Reuters the project will take five years to complete, with work beginning in late February or early March.

U.S. forces killed the al-Qaida leader and director of the 9/11 attacks in a daring raid on his hideout in May 2011. The large white villa is not far from an elite Pakistani military academy. The villa was demolished in 2012.

Some people have suggested that the government should build a public park on the land where the compound once stood, Reuters reported, though that idea was rejected because it might be dubbed "Osama Park."

According to the Pakistan tourism ministry's website, Abbottabad is a popular summer resort area and a gateway to mountain adventures. 

"It is a charming town spread out over several low, refreshingly cool and green hills," the site reads. 

By Jeff Black, Staff Writer, NBC News

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