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Osama bin Laden is dead, US president announces (UPDATE)

Other News Materials 2 May 2011 10:24
Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed Sunday in Abottabad, Pakistan in a shootout with US operatives, US President Barack Obama announced.
Osama bin Laden is dead, US president announces (UPDATE)

Eds: Adds further details of hunt for bin Laden, (previous news was posted at 08:41)

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed Sunday in Abottabad, Pakistan in a shootout with US operatives, US President Barack Obama announced, DPA reported.

"I can report to the American people and the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden," Obama said in a nationally televised nine-minute announcement.

The news was greeted by a growing crowd of flag-waving Americans outside the White House, who waved American flags and sang the US national anthem.

Obama said that US intelligence had been tipped in August that the al-Qaeda leader who orchestrated the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, was in Pakistan.

Obama said Pakistani security officials had helped "lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding" and he thanked Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for the cooperation.

"Last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice," Obama said.

The attack was launched Sunday "at my direction" to target bin Laden's compound "deep inside of Pakistan," in Abottabad, about 50 kilometres north of the capital Islamabad.

Obama said a small team of Americans had conducted the mission "with extraordinary courage and capability" and said no Americans were harmed.

"After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body," Obama said.

"Justice has been done," Obama said. "The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement today in ... efforts to defeat al- Qaeda," Obama said.

According to media reports, the bin Laden compound in Abbotabad was noticed by security operatives because it was the only place that burnt its trash. Despite its value of 1 million dollars, the compound had no internet or telephone service. In addition, messengers coming and going were noticed by intelligence officials.

"It took many months to run this thread to ground," Obama said.

Obama noted that he had made finding bin Laden "the top priority of our war against al Qaeda," and paid tribute to the families of the nearly 3,000 people who had been killed on September 11.

He recalled the "Twin Towers" collapsing to the ground, the "black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon."

"And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or father," Obama said.

Former president George W Bush called bin Laden's death a "momentous achievement."

Former president Bill Clinton called it a "profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in al-Qaeda's other attacks but for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom, and cooperation for our children."

The US Senate had placed a 50-million-dollar price on bin Laden's head. His assassination had been authorized by former president Bush.

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