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Published - World on alert after U.S. kills bin Laden

World on alert after U.S. kills bin Laden

By Mark Hosenball and Kamran Haider, Reuters

WASHINGTON, USA – Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. 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 renewed vigilance against attacks.

The death of bin Laden, who achieved near-mythic status for his ability to elude capture under three U.S. presidents, closes a bitter chapter in the fight against al Qaeda, but it does not eliminate the threat of further attacks.

The Sept. 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 U.S. ties with the Muslim world that have yet to be repaired, and redefined security for air travelers.

A small U.S. 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, U.S. 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.”

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