World on alert after US kills bin Laden
World leaders hailed bin Laden`s death but the euphoria was tempered by fears of retaliation.
Washington/Abbottabad: Osama bin Laden was killed in a US assault on his Pakistani compound on Monday, then quickly buried at sea, in a dramatic end to the long manhunt for the al Qaeda leader who had become the most powerful symbol of global terrorism.
World leaders hailed bin Laden`s death but the euphoria was tempered by fears of retaliation and warnings of the need for renewed vigilance against attacks.
The death of bin Laden, who achieved near-mythic status for his ability to elude capture under three US presidents, closes a bitter chapter in the fight against al Qaeda, but it does not eliminate the threat of further attacks.
The September 11, 2001, attacks, in which al Qaeda militants used hijacked planes to strike at economic and military symbols of American might, spawned two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, inflicted damage on US ties with the Muslim world that have yet to be repaired, and redefined security for air travelers.
President Barack Obama on Monday said, "This is a good day for America."
"Our country has kept its commitment to see that justice is done. The world is safer," Obama said. "It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden."
A small US strike team, dropped by helicopter to bin Laden`s compound near the Pakistani capital Islamabad under the cover of night, shot dead the al Qaeda leader in a firefight, US officials said.
"This was a kill operation," one security official told Reuters, but added: "If he had waved a white flag of surrender he would have been taken alive."
The revelation that bin Laden was living in a three-story residence in the military garrison town of Abbottabad, and not as many had speculated, in the country`s lawless western border regions, is a huge embarrassment to Pakistan, whose relations with Washington have frayed under the Obama administration.
A US intelligence official said there was no indication that Pakistan was aware that bin Laden was sheltering at the compound. Reflecting the lack of trust between the United States and Pakistan, US officials said they did not tell Pakistan about the operation until it was over.
Obama, whose popularity has suffered from continuing US economic woes, will likely see a short-term bounce in his approval ratings. At the same time, he is likely to face mounting pressure from Americans to speed up the planned withdrawal this July of US forces from Afghanistan.
However, bin Laden`s death is unlikely to have any impact on the nearly decade-long war in Afghanistan, where US forces are facing record violence by a resurgent Taliban.
Many analysts see bin Laden`s death as largely symbolic since he was no longer believed to have been issuing operational orders to the many autonomous al Qaeda affiliates around the world.
Financial markets were more optimistic. The dollar and stocks rose, while oil and gold fell, on the view bin Laden`s death reduced global security risks.