US kills Bin Laden, ending 10-year manhunt

08:21, May 03, 2011      

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Osama bin Laden, a global face of extremism and terrorism and the architect of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, was killed in a firefight with elite American forces, then quickly buried at sea in a stunning finale to a decade on the run.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said last night that the death of bin Laden was a milestone and a positive development for international anti-terrorism efforts.

"Terrorism is the common enemy of the international community. China has also been a victim of terrorism, " the spokesperson, Jiang Yu, said. She added that China has always opposed to terrorism of all forms and has been actively participating in the global anti-terrorism efforts.

"China upholds that the international community should step up cooperation in working together to combat terrorism," she said. "China believes that it is necessary to seek both a temporary solution and a permanent cure in fighting terrorism and to make great efforts to eliminate the soil on which terrorism relies to breed."

Long believed to be hiding in caves, bin Laden was tracked down in a costly, custom-built hideout not far from a military academy in northwest Pakistan.

"Justice has been done," U.S. President Barack Obama said in an announcement at the White House midnight on Sunday while a crowd cheered outside and hundreds more gathered at ground zero in Manhattan to celebrate.

US helicopters ferried elite counter-terrorism troops into the compound identified by the CIA as bin Laden's hideout in Abbottobad - and back out again in less than 40 minutes. Bin Laden was shot in the head, officials said, after he and his bodyguards resisted the assault.

Three adult males were also killed in the raid, including one of bin Laden's sons, whom officials did not name. US officials said one woman was also killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant, and two other women were injured.

The US official who disclosed the burial at sea said it would have been difficult to find a country willing to accept the remains. Obama said the remains had been handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires speedy burial.

"I heard a thundering sound, followed by heavy firing. Then firing suddenly stopped. Then more thundering, then a big blast," said Mohammad Haroon Rasheed, a resident of Abbottabad, Pakistan, after the choppers had swooped in and then out again.

The 54-year-old bin Laden's death marks a psychological triumph in a long struggle that began with the September 11 attacks in which nearly 3,000 people died, and seems certain to give Obama a political lift. But its ultimate impact on al-Qaida is less clear.

The few fiery minutes in Abbottobad followed years in which US officials struggled to piece together clues that ultimately led to bin Laden, according to an account provided by senior administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Intelligence officials have long known that bin Laden trusted one al-Qaida courier in particular, and they believed he might be living with him in hiding.

Last August, the man's residence was found, officials said. "Intelligence analysis concluded that this compound was custom built in 2005 to hide someone of significance," with walls as high as 5.50 meters and topped by barbed wire, according to one official.

Despite the compound's estimated US$1 million cost and two security gates, it had no phone or Internet access.

By mid-February, intelligence from multiple sources was clear enough that Obama wanted to "pursue an aggressive course of action," a senior official said.

Obama made a decision to launch the operation on Friday, and aides set to work on the details. The president spent part of his Sunday on the golf course, but cut his round short to return to the White House for a meeting where he and top national security aides reviewed final preparations for the raid.

CIA director Leon Panetta was in charge of the military team during the operation.

Administration aides said the operation was so secretive that no foreign officials were informed in advance.

Obama said he had called Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari after the raid and said it was "important to note that our counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding." The compound is about a half-mile from a Pakistani military academy.
Agencies/ People's Daily Online
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