US & Canada

Washington, NY and Shanksville mark Bin Laden death

Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden has been killed by US forces at his compound in north-west Pakistan.

Crowds have flooded the streets of Washington and New York reacting to news of his death with both jubilation and trepidation, as BBC correspondents report.

Washington - Andrew North

US President Barack Obama has announced that US forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in an operation in Pakistan.

The crowds started gathering outside the White House even before President Obama delivered the news.

Word spread quickly as US television networks gave advance warning of what he was going to say.

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Media captionCrowds chanted "USA USA" outside the White House

People were running towards Lafayette Square, the park outside the White House, to join the celebrations.

Some climbed into the trees outside, stringing US flags - the Stars and Stripes - between the branches.

Chants of "USA, USA, USA" surged from the growing crowd.

Until now, President Obama and most other US politicians barely mentioned Osama Bin Laden's name, trying to play down his importance, and not wanting to draw attention to the fact he had not been found.

But there was no doubting how Americans see him - as their public enemy number one. His death is hugely symbolic.

There was a mood of euphoria and relief in the square.

People said they wanted to be there for this moment. They remembered where they were on 11 September 2001. They said they would remember this moment in the same way.

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Media captionPresident of the 9/11 Memorial, Joe Daniels: "A tremendous step forward"

It represents "closure", said one woman.

The crowd was mostly young people, many of them students from Washington colleges and universities.

Someone had found an old campaign poster for the last occupants of the White House, holding aloft the words Bush-Cheney - the men who took on the hunt for Bin Laden after 9/11.

Behind the iron fence around the White House, extra secret service agents looked on.

But amid the celebrations there were also plenty of sober voices - worried at what comes next.

Many spoke of fears of al-Qaeda's response. Osama Bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri is still believed to be in hiding.

President Obama reflected that caution in his statement.

But for him this is already being seen as a huge personal triumph.

And in the crowd there were chants of four more years for Obama.

New York - Barbara Plett

Despite the late hour of the announcement, hundreds gathered in the streets of New York to celebrate the death of the man behind the 9/11 attacks on their city.

There was jubilation, and a strong sense of patriotism.

In Times Square people waved American flags, shouting "USA, USA" as passing vehicles honked their horns.

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Media captionCrowds flocked to Ground Zero to celebrate, as the BBC's Barbara Plett explains

At one point a diva broke into a full-throated rendition of the national anthem that would not have sounded out of place in an opera house. Elsewhere dozens recited the US pledge of allegiance.

"I'm glad it was us who nailed him," said one man, Rick, reflecting a prevalent sense of retributive justice.

Another man, Eric, rejoiced at some rare good news.

"I'm feeling ecstatic that there's a lot of positive energy here, because there's been a lot of negativity for many years," he said, adding that the news would give US troops a major morale boost.

Amidst the triumphalism there were those who took time for reflection and at Ground Zero some lit candles in memory of the 9/11 victims.

But there was also apprehension - one woman said the death of Osama Bin Laden brought at least symbolic closure to a traumatic period, but many feared an al-Qaeda retaliation.

"I am celebrating tonight but I fear for tomorrow," said another woman.

Many also believed the demise of the 9/11 mastermind would have no impact on the wars in which the US had become embroiled in response to the attacks.

Shanksville - Jonny Diamond

It is difficult to imagine a greater contrast to the whooping joy of Washington DC than Shanksville, in rural Pennsylvania.

The site of the United 93's last moments, a couple of hours drive south east of Pittsburgh, is not much to look at - the memorial is due to open on 10 September this year.

A steady flow of visitors gazes out in the damp spring weather at a brown gash in the earth and much construction work.

The fence in front is adorned with US flags and the front pages of the newspapers, now sodden, proclaiming Osama Bin Laden's death.

At the fence one woman leans, tears pouring down her face, sobs welling up from within.

Local Mayor Mike Masco felt the thump of the plane hitting the Pennsylvanian earth in his office - the lights and phones were lost for a moment. From that day he says, Bin Laden's fate was settled

"I truly believed that one day we would get him," he says. "Picking a fight with America is generally a very bad idea."

"The importance of getting him is more symbolic. We have not destroyed al-Qaeda."

Image caption Few visiting Shanksville believed the death means the fight is now over

This theme - that this is far from the end - comes up time and time again amongst those visiting.

Michael Lyons, an Air Force veteran, speaks slowly and thoughtfully about the killing of Bin Laden, and what it might mean.

"It brings no joy," says the 61 year old African- American. "It brings relief. But I am saddened to hear that our young people especially think that this is over.

"I read a little history. And if this were World War II, I think we'd be at August of 1942. I'm afraid that we have a lot more to go through."

The mood here is sombre, concerned about the future.

Donna Glassner, a clerk in a local hardware store, says she was surprised by the celebrations in the capital as the announcement of Bin Laden's death was made.

"I don't feel right about celebrating anyone's death. I don't think celebration is the right description for the way I felt."

Others at the memorial are more openly pleased at the demise of the man who masterminded the killing of so many Americans.

"I wept tears of joy," says one woman. Her partner says grimly that he was "happy" when he heard the news.

But nearly everyone agrees on two things - they mourn the passing of the unity that the US felt in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

And they do not think that the war is over.