Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, is dead, US president Barack Obama confirmed today.
The man held responsible for the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11 2001, and the London bombings of July 7 2005, was killed in a US operation in Pakistan.
Speaking from the White House, President Obama said he authorised the operation.
The body of the Al Qaida leader was now in US custody, he said.
Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the development in a statement issued by 10 Downing Street.
“The news that Osama Bin Laden is dead will bring great relief to people across the world,” he said.
“Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the worst terrorist atrocities the world has seen - for 9/11 and for so many attacks, which have cost thousands of lives, many of them British.
“It is a great success that he has been found and will no longer be able to pursue his campaign of global terror.”
Mr Cameron added: “This is a time to remember all those murdered by Osama bin Laden, and all those who lost loved ones. It is also a time too to thank all those who work round the clock to keep us safe from terrorism. Their work will continue.
“I congratulate President Obama and those responsible for carrying out this operation.”
Mr Obama said he had made “the killing or capture” of bin Laden his “top priority” in a war against al Qaida after he took office as president.
He said a “targeted operation” was launched yesterday against the compound where bin Laden was hiding “deep inside Pakistan”.
“A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.
“No Americans were harmed.
“They took care to avoid civilian causalities.
“After a firefight they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
Jubilant crowds emerged outside the White House after the president made his announcement about the terrorist’s death.
Former US president Bill Clinton said in a statement: “This is a profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in al Qaida’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.”
Mr Clinton’s successor, George Bush, described the news as a “momentous achievement”.
“The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done,” Mr Bush said in a statement.