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September 26, 2018

Man arrested on suspicion of molestation of six girls at Singapore’s Hougang Swimming Complex

Man arrested on suspicion of molestation of six girls at Singapore’s Hougang Swimming Complex

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Location of the Hougang Swimming Pool.
Image: OpenStreetMap.

A man, 36 years old, was arrested Monday on the suspicion that he had been molesting various girls at Singapore’s Hougang Swimming Complex, representatives from the Ang Mo Kio police division said on September 25.

The six girls allegedly molested by said man ranged in age from 9 to 13. Authorities were alerted to the case at about 3:50 p.m. on September 13.

After an investigation, the police managed to track down the suspect, who was arrested at Hougang Avenue 2 on Monday.

He is scheduled to be formally charged with outrage of modesty in court on Wednesday. This crime is punishable by two years’ imprisonment, caning, a fine, or a combination these punishments.



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December 2, 2015

Investigators blame pilot error for AirAsia crash into Java Sea

Investigators blame pilot error for AirAsia crash into Java Sea

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee yesterday declared pilot error to be behind the crash of Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501. All 162 passengers and crew died when the plane crashed into the Java Sea a year ago.

The crashed aircraft, photographed in April 2014.
Image: Oka Sudiatmika.

The Airbus A320-200 was around 40 minutes from Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport to Singapore’s Changi International Airport when it vanished on December 28. Wreckage and bodies were found floating two days later; National Search and Rescue Agency divers led an international recovery effort but over 50 bodies remain lost.

The pilots were facing a fault with the rudder travel limiter, a part involved in rudder control. They repeatedly received warnings on their Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitoring (ECAM) system. The first three times Indonesian Pilot Iriyanto and French co-pilot Remi Emmanuel Plesel followed correct procedure only for the fault to recur. The fourth time, they tried something else — based on Flight Data Recorder readouts, investigators believe they reset power to their Flight Augmentation Computers.

The computers are principally responsible for rudder control and aircraft stability. With both computers switched off, the entire fly-by-wire system of semi-automation disconnected, as did the autopilot and autothrust systems. The pilots were now left to fly entirely manually, without automation that protects the aircraft from entering unusual and dangerous positions.

A miscommunication followed. Iriyanto asked Plesel, who was flying, to “pull down”. Plesel pulled the controls down, which pitched the nose up; Iriyanto had wanted to descend. The flight ascended without permission through 36,000ft with a ground speed of 353knts. The aircraft would normally be travelling faster, with a nearby Emirates jet at a ground speed of 503knts at 36,000ft. The aircraft also banked as the disengagement of automation left the rudder off-centre.

A ship carries the aircraft’s recovered tail.
Image: Antonio P. Turretto Ramos, US Navy.

The AirAsia flight reached 38,000ft and entered a stall. The crew did not manage to regain control. The 155 passengers and seven crew died when the plane hit the sea. Most were Indonesians, but for three South Koreans, one Malaysian, one Brit, and French national Plesel.

The fault was traced to cracked solder on a circuit board. It had repeatedly occurred in the weeks before the crash. The investigation concluded maintenance failings contributed to the disaster, but Muhammad Alwi of the Indonesian Transportation Ministry said “Repeated trouble in maintenance is a normal thing[…] If the trouble is fixed in accordance with the manual maintenance procedures, then it’s alright”.

Investigators believe the solder crack is attributable to extreme temperature changes in the unprotected compartment near the tail that houses the component.

The investigation further found the flight crew were untrained in recovering from extreme events. AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes said yesterday “there is much to be learned here for AirAsia, the manufacturer and the aviation industry… We will not leave any stone unturned to make sure the industry learns from this tragic incident”.

The report also dismisses weather as a contributory factor. The flight was diverting around storms in the area.

Iriyanto and Plessel had over 8,000 hours experience between them. Iriyanto had a decade of experience training other pilots, and previous employers include the air force. They spent three minutes struggling to regain control as the pane fell to the sea. Some bodies were recovered around 1,000km away near Sulawesi.

AFP spoke to Terence Fan, an air industry expert from Singapore Management University, who said “It’s a scenario that has played out in air accidents in the past[…] Pilots are either distracted by a faulty equipment or cannot properly solve the issue and something else is brewing in the background.”

One such accident was the loss of Air France Flight 447 in 2009 into the Atlantic. It was investigated by the BEA of France, which also assisted the AirAsia probe. The BEA issued recommendations on how to train pilots after the Air France crash. Ex-BEA boss Jean-Paul Troadec said to AFP “Several recommendations of the (BEA) on the subject of pilot training were clearly not implemented by [AirAsia].”

Indonesia saw such an accident on New Years’ Day 2007 when Adam Air Flight 574 crashed into the Makasser Strait near Sulawesi. The plane suffered a failure on a navigational instrument. While pilots were troubleshooting for this navigational system they first unintentionally disconnected the autopilot, then lost control and crashed into the sea.



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September 12, 2015

Singapore ruling party wins general election

Singapore ruling party wins general election

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

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Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) won a decisive victory in the nation’s general elections Friday, increasing its share of the vote and number of seats in Parliament. The PAP has governed the city-state since its independence in 1965.

Election results released Saturday showed the PAP scoring 69.9 percent of ballots cast, nearly a ten percentage point increase in the popular vote from the nation’s 2011 general election. The PAP won 83 of 89 seats, compared to its 80 out of 87 seat showing in 2011. With voting compulsory, turnout was 93.56% among 2.46 million voters.

Although few people expected the PAP to lose power, the massive victory signaled a revival of confidence in the party after its unexpectedly disappointing showing in the 2011 elections, in which the party’s share of the popular vote dropped to an all-time low and opposition parties gained a number of seats in Parliament. This year, the PAP was likely helped by patriotic fervor stemming from the nation’s 50th anniversary of independence as well as lingering sentiment from the death of PAP founder and longtime Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew.

Speaking after the election win, Prime Minister and PAP secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong stated that he was “very humbled by this result, by the trust which you have put on us, by the responsibility which we have taken on to serve you, to represent you and to look after your interest”.

“Tomorrow will be better than today; SG100 will be better than SG50,” he added.

Opposition parties, which saw their gradual but steady political momentum stall in this election, were less thrilled. “We’ve done the best that we could to serve the residents. Again, we could have done better and we would like to do better. But we have done our best nevertheless given the circumstances that we were in,” Worker’s Party (WP) leader Low Thia Khiang stated. After gaining seats in the 2011 elections, the WP lost one seat and saw its overall share of the vote drop to 39.8 percent, down 6.8 percentage points from 2011. However, the WP retained control of the five-member Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC), the primary electoral prize it won in 2011.



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March 24, 2015

Singapore\’s \’founding father\’ Lee Kuan Yew dies aged 91

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Singapore’s ‘founding father’ Lee Kuan Yew dies aged 91

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

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Lee pictured at the Pentagon in 2002.
Image: Robert D. Ward.

Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, has died at the age of 91. Considered the “founding father” of Singapore, Lee led Singapore through the aftermath of independence to become one of the world’s richest nations. He died yesterday under treatment for pneumonia at the Singapore General Hospital.

The current Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, announced the former Prime Minister’s death in a televised statement. Prime Minister Lee, who is the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, said “The first of our founding fathers is no more. He inspired us, gave us courage, and brought us here[…] To many Singaporeans, and indeed others too, Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore.”

More tributes came from within Singapore and around the world. The President of the United States, Barack Obama, called Lee “a true giant of history.” Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, said “Lee Kwan Yew’s passing is as much a loss for the international community as it is for Singapore”.

Lee, co-founder of the People’s Action Party, was the nation’s first Prime Minister from 1959 continuously to 1990. Despite no longer holding the office he remained highly involved within Singaporean politics until his death. He was both admired and criticized throughout the world during his rule.

He was condemned by opponents over many of his strict home policies. During his tenure the press and media was strictly controlled and chewing gum was banned. He was however highly regarded for his financial tact, leading Singapore to vast financial success through his economic policies.

Lee defended his tough stance in a 2010 New York Times interview, saying “I’m not saying everything I did was right[…] But everything I did was for an honourable purpose.” He admitted to ordering “nasty things” such as “locking fellows up without trial.”

A period of national mourning has begun and his body is to lie in state from Wednesday until Saturday. A state funeral for Lee is to take place on Sunday, followed by private services on Monday and Tuesday.


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February 8, 2015

Divers retrieve 100th corpse from Java Sea jet crash

Divers retrieve 100th corpse from Java Sea jet crash

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

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Divers yesterday recovered three bodies from December’s air disaster in the Java Sea. Added to four retrieved on Friday, they bring the total to 100. An additional 62 victims remain to be recovered.

The crashed aircraft, photographed in April.
Image: Oka Sudiatmika.

There were no survivors when Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 crashed on December 28. The six-year-old Airbus A320-200 was 40 minutes from Juanda International Airport with 155 passengers and seven crew, bound for Singapore’s Changi International Airport. Most were Indonesians, with three South Koreans, one Malaysian, one Brit and one French person on board.

One of the latest bodies was a uniformed man strapped into a cockpit seat, and presumed to be either Indonesian Pilot Iriyanto or French co-pilot Remi Emmanuel Plesel. Underwater currents have complicated recovery of the other body from the cockpit. Efforts to retrieve the entire aircraft last month were abandoned. Some bodies have been found roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from the crash site, floating near Sulawesi.

Iriyanto and Plessel had over 8,000 hours experience between them. Iriyanto has a decade of experience training other pilots, and previous employers include the air force. Their actions have come under scrutiny as the National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) investigates.

A ship carries the aircraft’s recovered tail.
Image: Antonio P. Turretto Ramos, US Navy.

The aircraft entered an excessively steep climb before stalling, the NTSC said last month. It took three minutes for the plane to reach the water, during which time the flight crew tried to regain control. Bloomberg claims the flight crew switched off computers designed to aid them after they issued alerts. AirAsia has declined to comment pending the NTSC investigation, which is expected to continue for several months.

The Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics suggests weather caused the disaster, suggesting ice led to engine failure. NTSC head investigator Marjono Siswosuwarno last month reported satellite data showed storms as high as 44,000ft. The plane was attempting to avoid storms in the minutes before contact was lost.

The National Search and Rescue Agency has over 60 divers working to retrieve the bodies.



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July 3, 2014

Indian space agency launches five foreign satellites

Indian space agency launches five foreign satellites

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

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The Indian space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), launched five foreign satellites from the Sriharikota facility on Monday morning, using the PSLV-C23 launch vehicle.

The primary payload was an earth observation satellite from France called SPOT 7 which weighed 714 kg. Other satellites included on board were the German AISat, 14 kg; Canadian NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) and NLS7.2 (CAN-X5), 15 kg each; and Singaporean VELOX 1, 7 kg.

The launch took place at 9:52 AM on Monday morning, delayed from the original schedule by three minutes to avoid space debris. This was the 26th successful launch of a PSLV. Along with the US, Russia, the European Union, China, and Japan, India is one of the few nations that offer commercial launch services. These services are provided by Antrix, the commercial department of ISRO. ISRO’s next major launch may be this month using a GSLV-III launch vehicle.

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present at the launch site. He addressed the scientists after the launch congratulating them, and asked them to build a satellite suitable for use by all the nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). He also emphasized the frugal approach of India to the space industry. Phillipe Ghesquiers of Airbus Space and Defense Systems, the builders of SPOT 7, expressed satisfaction at the launch and stated they may use India’s launch services again in the future.



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May 4, 2014

First arrests made in Singapore for possession of New Psychoactive Substances

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First arrests made in Singapore for possession of New Psychoactive Substances

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

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The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) of Singapore announced yesterday the first arrests made following the listing of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) as Class A controlled drugs on Thursday, under the First Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act. The suspects, two unnamed male Singaporeans, aged 22 and 23, were reportedly arrested at a shopping center in Tampines on Friday evening for possession of synthetic cannabis, also known as “K2”. Authorities recovered 71.7 g of the drug from the suspects.

Under suspicion from the CNB that the 22-year-old suspect was engaged in trafficking of the illegal substance, a further search of his home yielded an additional 22.3 g of synthetic cannabis, raising the total amount of the drug confiscated following the arrests to 94 g.

Synthetic cannabis, listed as an NPS, and known as a “legal high”, is one of a group of designer drugs created to stimulate the effects of controlled drugs including cocaine, Ecstasy, methamphetamine, and heroin. The CNB has linked NPS abuse to symptoms including severe intoxication, hallucinations, paranoia, seizures, cadiovascular problems, renal failure, and death.

Typically having chemical structure very similar but slightly different from controlled drugs, these substances have been illegalized, and their possession, consumption, trafficking, and manufacturing now carry penalties comparable to that of controlled drugs. Last year, under the Fifth Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act, designed to study NPSs before their illegalization, they could be confiscated by authorities, but no further penalty would be levied.

The changes to NPS status follow increases over the past year in NPS trafficking and consumption, according to the CNB. Commenting on the move, a spokesperson for the CNB revealed the organization has reported at least thirty NPS seizures in the period from last May through this February. “Thus far,” the spokesperson noted, “synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones are the two more commonly detected NPS”.

Termed an “alarming new drug problem” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, its World Drug Report 2013 indicated an increase to 348 NPSs in 2013, up from 251 in 2012. Capitalizing on their legality — which no longer holds in Singapore — NPSs have been known as “legal highs”, “research chemicals”, “plant food”, and “bath salts”.

Commenting on the illegalization of NPSs, Ng Ser Song, the director of the CNB, had this to say. “The drug situation is challenging and the number of repeat drug abusers and young drug abusers remains a concern. With the abuse and trafficking of NPS on the rise, listing these new psychoactive substances as Class A controlled drugs signals our unequivocal stance that these substances are illegal and no different from other controlled drugs.”

Under the recently enacted First Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act, if found guilty of drug trafficking, the 22-year-old suspect may be penalized with a minimum of five years in prison and five strokes of the cane. The act also allows the possession or consumption of New Psychoactive Substances to be punished with a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and/or a $20,000 fine.



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December 19, 2012

Wikinews interviews Spanish evolutionary biologist Francisco G. Gonzálvez

Wikinews interviews Spanish evolutionary biologist Francisco G. Gonzálvez

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

a weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina, on a Singapore rhododendron
Image: Francisco G. Gonzálvez.

A video of a Singapore rhododendron with a carpenter bee
Image: Francisco G. Gonzálvez.

A video of a Singapore rhododendron with a Nomia genus bee
Image: Francisco G. Gonzálvez.

A large carpenter bee with a small ant
Image: Francisco G. Gonzálvez.

A weaver ant is “guarding” the flower
Image: Francisco G. Gonzálvez.

A large carpenter bee
Image: Francisco G. Gonzálvez.

In a study published on October 29, Spanish researchers studied Singapore rhododendron interaction with ants. The researchers discovered that the flower produces substances to attract weaver ants to drive away the smaller Nomia bees, which are a worse pollinator than larger carpenter bees. The ants don’t drive away the larger bees, which pollinate the flowers and visit them more often as they get better.

Today, Wikinews interviewed Spanish evolutionary biologist Francisco G. Gonzálvez, one of the lead researchers of this study.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What prompted your curiosity in the rhododendron flowers and bees?

Francisco G. Gonzálvez: I am an evolutionary biologist interested in how ambush predators on flowers, such as crab spiders, praying mantises or ants, can modify pollinator-plant interactions. By doing field observations in Singapore I realized that the aggressive weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina, spent a lot of time on rhododendron flowers causing different responses in their floral visitors. While the presence of the weaver ants on flowers deterred small floral visitors, large carpenter bees were unaffected by the presence of the ants. Since then we conducted a number of experiments and observations to elucidate the role of the weaver ants, flowers visitors and the plant species in this complex system.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What activities did the study involve?

Francisco G. Gonzálvez: Mostly the study involved many hours fieldwork. We quantified bee visit rates at plant with and without ant nests, assessed the pollination effectiveness of the different flower visitors, examined the association between weaver ant presence ant fruit an seed set and finally we tested whether weaver ants were attracted to flowers. Additionally we developed a simple optimal-foraging model and compared its prediction with observed patterns.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What was the study timeline? What activity took the most time and attention?

Francisco G. Gonzálvez: The experiments and observations in field were conducted from April to June 2010 in MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore. However, the activity that took most time and attention was to determine pollen production per flower in order to evaluate pollination effectiveness of the floral visitors. We spent almost two months counting pollen grains under a microscope. It was definitely the most tedious part of our work.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What technology was involved in the study?

Francisco G. Gonzálvez: Basically it was an observational study so we did not use complex technology. Probably the most sophisticated technology we used was the microscope under which we counted pollen grains.



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July 5, 2012

ACTA rejected by European Parliament, protesters rejoice

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

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The proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was defeated in a plenary session of the European Parliament with an overwhelming 478 votes against versus 39 supporting; 165 parliamentarians chose to abstain.

Pressure and activist groups across Europe celebrated the defeat of the legislation, attributing their success to mobilising the public to bring pressure to bear on MEPs. In thanking supporters, the UK’s Open Rights Group (ORG) cautioned that Karel de Gucht, current European Commissioner for Trade, deferred any decision as-to how the Commission will move forward until after a ruling from the European Court of Justice on ACTA’s compatibility with European law.

The controversial copyright- and patent-related trade agreement previously provoked massive rallies and demonstrations across the continent involving hundreds of thousands. A petition against ACTA accrued two million signatures. In an editorial on the resounding defeat, where MEPs held up placards post-vote which read “Hello Democracy Goodbye ACTA”, The Guardian’s technology editor Charles Arthur said the agreement “didn’t stand a chance”. Arthur points out that some of the counterfeiting problems ACTA was, in part, supposed to address are ones which should concern people, particularly the risks associated with fake drugs. However, with the vague wording of the trade agreement raising the possibility of travellers’ electronic devices being searched for copyright-infringing content at customs and border checkpoints, he concluded the secretly-negotiated deal “never stood a chance against the internet tidal wave” of opposition.

Arthur also highlighted that secrecy surrounding the drafting of ACTA encouraged widespread public opposition; negotiations began under the presidency of George W. Bush, which rebuffed requests from the Electronic Frontier Foundation stating that all but ten pages of the 800+ page draft were “classified in the interest of national security”. Following Barack Obama taking office, another Freedom of Information request was filed; again, access was denied with the Obama administration asserting that national security concerns justified the entire draft and related documents remaining secret.

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“ACTA has become a symbol for policy made in secrecy”, stated Sebastian Nerz, vice-president of the Pirate Party of Germany. “We are hopeful now that Brussels has taken a stance against lobbyist interests. Upholding fundamental rights and civil liberties online seems no longer to be merely empty words for the European Members of Parliament.” The Pirate Party previously included criticism of ACTA’s failure to involve the people in its decision-making as part of its election campaigns in several German states, the most recent being in North-Rhine Westphalia.

Protesters criticised the vague wording and legal uncertainty ACTA would have introduced. Widespread censorship of the internet and curtailment of freedom of speech were feared; patent regulations were highlighted as having potentially adverse impact on access to medicines and crop seeds. The trade agreement, which US-based pressure group Accessnow.org described as “giving the U.S. a structural competitive advantage over other countries” had already been ratified by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States.

The long-running campaign against ACTA can largely be traced to publication of a leaked draft of the agreement on whistleblowing site Wikileaks. Their analysis concluded that parts of the document were written as “a Pirate Bay killer”; the then-leaked draft would force internet service providers to provide “perfunctionary disclosure of customer information” and would “likely outlaw multi-region CD/DVD players”.

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May 3, 2011

World leaders react to death of Osama bin Laden

World leaders react to death of Osama bin Laden

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

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Cquote1.svg Osama bin Laden suggested that he was operating in the name of Islam, but in reality he makes a mockery of the fundamental values of his own and every other religion. Cquote2.svg

—Angela Merkel

Leaders and officals around the world have issued varied reactions to the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been killed during a U.S. military operation in Pakistan. NATO has insisted it will continue fighting against militants in Afghanistan, and the United Nations said the death of bin Laden marked a “watershed moment in our common global fight against terrorism.”

Announcing that the al-Qaeda leader had been killed by U.S. special forces during a forty-minute raid on a compound in Abbottabad, near the capital Islamabad, U.S. President Barack Obama said it was “a good day for America.” Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate winners of the Medal of Honor, Obama praised the “anonymous heroes” who took part in the operation. He said: “We may not always know their names, we may not always know their stories, but they are always there on the front lines of freedom and we are truly blessed. As commander-in-chief, I could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform.”

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the chief of NATO, vowed the organization would remain fighting in Afghanistan despite the death of bin Laden. “As terrorism continues to pose a direct threat to our security and international stability, international cooperation remains key and NATO is at the heart of that cooperation,” he said in a statement. “NATO allies and partners will continue their mission to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for extremism, but develops in peace and security.”

The U.N. and the European Parliament also welcomed the news. Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general, said: “The death of Osama bin Laden, announced by President Obama last night, is a watershed moment in our common global fight against terrorism. The crimes of al-Qaeda touched most continents, bringing tragedy and loss of life to thousands of men, women and children.”

Barack Obama announces the news that bin Laden had been killed. He said it was “a good day for America.”
Image: White House.

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, said the news “will be welcomed right across our country” and was a “massive step forward,” but warned the death of bin Laden “does not mark the end of the threat we face from extremist terror.” Italian Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi said: “This is a great outcome in the fight against evil, in the fight against terrorism, a great outcome for the United States and for all democracies”.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the killing of bin Laden was a “decisive strike” at al-Qaeda. “At his command and in his name, terror was enforced into many countries against men women and children, Christians as well as Muslims,” she said. “Osama bin Laden suggested that he was operating in the name of Islam, but in reality he makes a mockery of the fundamental values of his own and every other religion.”

Several Asian countries also said bin Laden’s death was a step forward in the war against terrorism. Chinese spokeswoman Jiang Yu said “China has taken note of the announcement. We believe the death of Osama bin Laden is a milestone and a positive development for the international anti-terrorism efforts.” Japan, Malaysia and Singapore also welcomed the news.

Australia pledged not to withdraw forces from Afghanistan after the announcement. “Osama bin Laden declared war on innocent people and today he has paid the price for that declaration,” Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister, said. “The mission in Afghanistan will continue,” she added, saying al-Qaeda “will continue”. Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France, said bin Laden was a “promoter of the ideology of hatred and was the chief of a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of thousands of victims, especially in Muslim countries,” and “justice has been done” for the victims of al-Qaeda attacks.



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