Click on the video tab to watch Barack Obama's speech on Osama bin Laden's death
By James Murray and staff
Osama bin Laden has been killed following a US operation in Pakistan, President Barack Obama confirmed today in an unscheduled press conference.
Obama determined last week that he had enough intelligence to act and authorised an operation to kill Bin Laden.
At his direction the United States launched an operation against Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, 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 casualties," he said.
A Pakistani television station is now showing footage which purports to be the scene of the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound.
The President broke into regular programming for the announcement and finished with a moving message for the families of 9/11 victims.
“Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11. We have never forgotten your loss nor waivered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores. Tonight let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has at times frayed, yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people."
There are hundreds of people outside the White House, where jubilant crowds are cheering and chanting "USA. USA". Others are singing the 'Star Spangled Banner'.
Former US President George W. Bush - who originally launched the worldwide hunt for Bin Laden - has released a statement about his death saying:
“This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.
“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 was president when terror attacks were carried out on New York and Washington. Bin Laden was widely believed to be responsible for the attacks.
The former president says Obama called him earlier to inform him about the successful operation.
Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk sought to pour water on the news saying bin Laden's death was "pretty irrelevant" when compared to the current popular uprisings occurring in the Middle East.
"I've been saying for some time that I think whether he's dead or
not is pretty irrelevent," said the Middle East correspondent for
British newspaper The Independent.
"As far as he's concerned he founded Al Qaeda and that was in his eyes his achievement."
The highly-experienced and well-regarded journalist said Osama Bin Laden "never was, and
certainly wasn't recently, in a position to actually decide what Al
Qaeda was doing".
"He didn't sit in a cave with computer knobs saying press button b, it's operation 52."
New Zealand politicians have also commented on the news, Labour Leader Phil Goff saying the world was a "better place" without Bin Laden.
"I have absolutely zero tolerance for terrorists who kill innocent people in pursuit of the ideological goals," said Mr Goff.
Bin Laden was top of the US most-wanted list and accused of masterminding several major terrorist operations including the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.
He has been hunted by US forces for almost a decade.