The United States has killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden nearly 10 years after the September 11 2001 attacks, US President Barack Obama said in a dramatic televised address on Sunday.
“Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children,” Obama said in a surprise late night White House address.
The world’s most wanted man had been killed in a Pakistani compound in an operation on Sunday, which had been carried after cooperation from Islamabad, the US leader said.
Obama said in the historic address from the White House that he had directed the US armed forces to launch an attack against a compound in Pakistan on Sunday acting on a lead that first emerged last August.
“A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday hailed news of in Laden’s death, saying it would “bring great relief to people across the world”.
Joyous crowds descended on the White House and spontaneously erupted with chants of “USA, USA” as news of Osama bin Laden’s death was welcomed by ordinary Americans.
With some brandishing US national flag, they punched the air and sang The Star Spangled Banner, even before the announcement of his death by Obama in a hurriedly-organised address to the nation.
Starting with just a few dozen people, the crowd quickly built to hundreds pressed against the fence outside the White House, in what rapidly became a party atmosphere as Obama confirmed details.
The news was welcomed by Americans across the country, even though his death was only confirmed shortly before midnight on Sunday.
“I’m proud to be an American tonight,” Kenneth Specht, a New York fireighter on 9/11, told CNN, paying tribute to the victims of the attacks in New York and Washington.
“Tonight they are first and foremost in our minds,” he said.
“Its a long time coming,” hotel clerk Becky Grant (26) at the Fairfield Inn in Ann Arbor, Michigan, told Agence France-Presse, before asking a passing guest: “Did you hear the news? Bin Laden’s been killed.”
The internet, including the Twitter and Facebook social networking websites, were also deluged with reaction to the al-Qaeda leaders death, killed by US forces in Pakistan.
“Finally! I can now sleep tonight knowing this. He was hiding for years and was finally caught and killed. I am so happy right now,” said Stewie on a Yahoo message board.
The US State Department on Sunday issued a global travel alert to all US citizens following the death of bin Laden, saying there could be an outbreak of anti-American violence.
“The US Department of State alerts US citizens travelling and residing abroad to the enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan,” it said in a statement.
“Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, US citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations.”
It added that the warning would remain in effect until August 1. — AFP