New York: Thousands flocked to Ground Zero to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden,
mastermind of the devastating 11 September attacks on New York nearly 10 years ago.
New York’s police chief Raymond Kelly called the death of bin Laden a “welcome milestone” for the families of the 3,000 victims of the 2001 strikes by Al-Qaeda. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he hoped bin Laden’s death would bring “closure and comfort” to the 11 September families.
Streets around the site of the World Trade Center towers which were toppled by bin Laden followers who hijacked three jets on that fateful day quickly filled with thousands of people waving flags and singing the national anthem.
Some climbed up lamp posts trying to get a view over the barrier surrounding the massive construction site where the towers once stood -- the site now tragically known around the world as Ground Zero.
New York firemen who paid a huge human price in the 11 September attacks joined more crowds who gathered in Times Square.
Just minutes after midnight, New York Fire Department Ladder number 4 rolled into the square, the fire fighters sat on the ladders on the truck watching the growing crowds pour into the square.
People celebrate after Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, during a spontaneous celebration in New York’s Times Square, on 2 May 2011. Photo: Reuters
“Ten years and finally we got him,” Captain Patrice McLead, from Ladder 4, told AFP. “After all the loses and such a tragedy, we can finally be happy again. I hope this will bring a sense of closure, for all of us, including Muslims.”
Two of the hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Centers on the morning of 11 September 2001. More than 2,600 were killed in New York out of the approximately 3,000 killed in all.
“The killing of Osama bin Laden does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands,” said New York mayor Bloomberg.
“But it is a critically important victory for our nation -- and a tribute to the millions of men and women in our armed forces and elsewhere who have fought so hard for our nation.
“New Yorkers have waited nearly ten years for this news. It is my hope that it will bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.”
Kelly said the killing of bin Laden was “a welcome milestone for the friends and families of those killed on 9/11, and for all who remain tenaciously engaged in protecting New York from another attack.”
Kelly said there was no evidence of a heightened threat of a new attack but he called on all police to remain on alert.