World praise, vigilance after Osama bin Laden killing

Posted at 05/02/11 6:49 PM

HONG KONG - Global acclamation Monday over the death of Osama bin Laden was tempered by leaders' acknowledgement that the long war against terrorism is far from over and that Al-Qaeda could yet strike back.

Announcing the killing by US special forces of the world's most wanted man, President Barack Obama said "justice has been done", while his predecessor George W. Bush hailed it as a "momentous" achievement.

But in a sign of tensions to come, India lashed out at its arch-foe Pakistan, saying that the fact the manhunt ended at a luxurious villa north of Islamabad was further evidence that militants find "sanctuary" in the country.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari convened emergency talks with his prime minister and security chiefs in Islamabad -- a mere two hours' drive from bin Laden's place of death in the town of Abbottabad.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told AFP in an interview that the killing of bin Laden was a "great victory".

But officials in both Islamabad and Washington confirmed the dramatic operation which took place in the dead of night did not involve Pakistani forces.

In neighboring Afghanistan, the fulcrum of Bush's "war on terror" where bin Laden had found shelter in the late 1990s, President Hamid Karzai said the Al-Qaeda supremo had "paid for his actions".

But pointing the finger at Pakistan, Karzai also claimed vindication for his oft-stated belief that Afghanistan is not the true hub of the war on terror.

"The war against terrorism is in its sources, in its financial sources, its sanctuaries, in its training bases, not in Afghanistan."

The news was greeted with jubilation in foreign capitals, mixed with apprehension about the possible repercussions and renewed promises of vigilance.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy congratulated the United States for its "tenacity" in hunting down bin Laden nearly 10 years after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, which ignited a decade of tumult.

"The scourge of terrorism has suffered a historic defeat but it's not the end of Al-Qaeda," Sarkozy stressed in a statement.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said bin Laden's demise would "bring great relief to people across the world".

"It is a great success that he has been found and will no longer be able to pursue his campaign of global terror," Cameron said in a statement.

Israel was fulsome in its praise of the United States, its vital security ally.

"The state of Israel joins together in the joy of the American people after the liquidation of bin Laden," said a statement from the premier's office.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulates US President Barack Obama for this victory for justice, liberty and the common values of democratic nations which fought side by side against terrorism."

The Kremlin said bin Laden's death was a "serious success" for the United States and that Russia was willing to step up its cooperation with Washington in the fight against terror.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "Last night the forces of peace achieved a victory. But this does not mean that international terrorism has been defeated yet. We must all remain vigilant."

The US State Department issued a global travel alert to all US citizens warning that there could be an outbreak of anti-American violence after bin Laden's death. Police agency Interpol warned of a "heightened terror risk".

Bush, who was president at the time of the September 11 attacks and launched the subsequent war in Afghanistan, congratulated Obama, US intelligence and military forces.

"The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done," Obama's predecessor said.

Prior to 9/11, Al-Qaeda earned global notoriety with truck bombings outside the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people in August 1998, most of them Africans.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said the killing of bin Laden was an "act of justice" for the victims of the bombings at the embassy in Nairobi.

But India, which has fought three wars with Pakistan, said news that bin Laden had been hiding out across its border was deeply worrying.

"We take note with grave concern that part of the statement in which President Obama said that the firefight in which Osama bin Laden was killed took place in Abbottabad 'deep inside Pakistan'," Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said.

"This fact underlines our concern that terrorists belonging to different organisations find sanctuary in Pakistan," he said.