Merkel says bin Laden death 'victory for forces of peace'

2nd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is a "victory for the forces of peace," but his death does not mean extremism has been defeated, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday.

"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," Merkel said in a statement.

"The US military has achieved a decisive blow against Al-Qaeda with its commando action against Osama bin Laden and his killing," Merkel said, adding she had expressed her "relief" to US President Barack Obama.

The two leaders spoke on the telephone on Monday evening, during which the chancellor "congratulated him on the successful US military operation against Osama bin Laden," spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

They also confirmed their determination to continue the fight against terrorism together, he added.

Merkel said in her statement earlier: "Osama bin Laden was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

"Osama bin Laden claimed to be acting in the name of Islam, but in reality he made a mockery of the basic values of his and all other religions."

Earlier German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in a statement called the death of "one of the world's most brutal terrorists... good news for all the people of the world who love peace and think freely."

He warned however of the risk of acts of revenge.

"It cannot be ruled out that there are other accomplices who will try again to carry out appalling deeds throughout the world now that Osama bin Laden has been stopped," Westerwelle said on public radio.

Foreign ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said later that Germany had ramped up its travel advisory in light of bin Laden's death, urging its citizens to exercise more vigilance while abroad.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, before leaving for a previously planned trip to Washington, said Germany would continue to work closely with the United States in fighting terror.

"It would be premature to celebrate and conclude that terrorism has ended," said Friedrich, who will hold talks with US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder and chief counterterrorism advisor John Brennan.

"In the last 10 years, a network of interconnected cells developed which still exists. The threat of terrorism remains."

Friedrich said Berlin had no indication that US interests in Germany faced a greater threat of terror attacks after bin Laden's death but added that it would boost security measures if the situation changed.

German authorities captured three alleged Al-Qaeda members Friday, reportedly with the help of US intelligence. The trio is suspected of plotting a major bomb attack in a German city.

© 2011 AFP

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