Osama killed in Abbottabad raid: Obama
KABUL(PAN): Al Qaeda's elusive chief Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind behind the devastating 9/11 attacks in the United States, was killed in his luxury mansion in Abbottabad city of Pakistan, US President Barack Obama announced. Islamabad confirmed the 'intelligence-driven military operation'.
The most wanted individual in the world, the multimillionaire Saudi citizen was killed on Sunday night during a firefight with American forces in Pakistan, Obama said in a late-night speech at the White House. "Justice has been done," he remarked.
"The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda and a terrorist who is responsible for the murder of thousands of men, women and children," Obama said.
"It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory -- hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky," the president said.
Obama added he directed the US security personnel to launch a targeted raid on that compound in Abbottabad, northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The forces exercised great caution to avoid civilian casualties and took custody of Osama's body after the firefight, he said.
Pakistanhelped the US reach the compound where Osama was hiding, he acknowledged, saying that he phoned President Asif Zardari. "They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against Al Qaeda and its affiliates."
Hailing the operation as the most significant achievement to date in US effort to defeat Al Qaeda, the president made clear that Osama's killing did not mark the end to the war on terror. "We must also reaffirm that the United States is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam. I've made clear that our war is not against Islam."
In Islamabad, the foreign ministry verified Osama's demise in an "intelligence-driven military operation" by the US army. The Foreign Office called his death "a major setback to terrorist organisations around the world." In a statement, the ministry said the death illustrated the resolve of the international community, including Pakistan, to eliminate terrorism.
The Foreign Office said scores of Al Qaeda-sponsored terrorist attacks had resulted in deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistani men, women and children. Almost, 30,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives in the attacks over the last few years, with more than 5,000 security officials killed in the campaign against terrorist organisations.
"We have had extremely effective intelligence-sharing arrangements with several intelligence agencies, including that of the US. We will continue to support international efforts against terrorism. It is Pakistan's stated policy that it will not allow its soil to be used in terrorist attacks against any country," the statement added.
In his speech, Obama branded the Al Qaeda chief -- the subject of a painstakingly long manhunt since 200 -- as a mass killer of Muslims and said his death should be welcomed by all who believed in peace and human dignity.
Also blamed for the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2000 attack on the warship USS Cole in Yemen and several other plots, Osama had made Afghanistan his base during Taliban rule.
Sunday's raid also killed three other adults, including a son of the Saudi dissident, an unnamed Obama administration official was quoted as saying. He believed Osama's death represented a huge loss for Al Qaeda, from which it would never be able to recover.
Born in 1957, he came to Afghanistan as a volunteer at 22 to join the jihad that led to the withdrawal of the Soviets occupation forces. He stayed in the country for a decade, building shelters, tunnels and roads. Al Qaeda operated training camps to train young men for the Jihad against the Soviets.
Meanwhile, the State Department put US embassies on alert, warning Americans abroad of possible reprisal attacks from Al Qaeda and its affiliates around the world. The department said there was an "enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counterterrorism activity in Pakistan."
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