Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are believed to be hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan, but are not together, a senior NATO official said.
"Nobody in al Qaeda is living in a cave," said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the intelligence matters involved.
Rather, al Qaeda's top leadership is believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and some members of the Pakistani intelligence services, the official said.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied protecting members of the al Qaeda leadership.
The official said the general region where bin Laden is likely to have moved around in recent years ranges from the mountainous Chitral area in the far northwest near the Chinese border, to the Kurram Valley which neighbors Afghanistan's Tora Bora, one of the Taliban strongholds during the U.S. invasion in 2001.
Tora Bora is also the region from which bin Laden is believed to have escaped during a U.S. bombing raid in late 2001. U.S. officials have long said there have been no confirmed sightings of bin Laden or Zawahiri for several years.
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