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Europe lauds bin Laden's death

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Europe lauds bin Laden's death
Flowers and flags are placed on the fence surrounding Ground Zero, the site of the former Twin Towers, hours after Osama Bin Laden is killed by U.S. Navy Seals almost 10 years after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center at Ground Zero in New York on May 2, 2011. UPI/John Angelillo | License Photo

BERLIN, May 2 (UPI) -- European leaders welcomed the news of Osama bin Laden's death but warned that the fight against terrorism isn't over.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she welcomed bin Laden's death, saying it was an important strike against terrorism.

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"Bin Laden was the symbol of international terrorism … now it's clear that he can't order any additional attacks and that's simply good news," she said Monday in Berlin.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen hailed the killing but added that the alliance would continue its military mission in Afghanistan, where several European nations have troops as part of the International Security Assistance Force.

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European leaders also gave signs of caution, suggesting that terrorists may retaliate for the U.S. operation in Pakistan that involved the targeted killing of the world's most wanted man.

Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, one of Washington's closes allies in the U.S.-led military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, called bin Laden's death "a massive step forward."

"Of course, it does not mark the end of the threat we face from extremist terror," he said in televised remarks. "We will have to be particularly vigilant in the weeks ahead."

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French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the terror threat wouldn't disappear with bin Laden.

"There are decentralized groups, who claim links to al-Qaida but have a certain autonomy, that will continue their work," Juppe told French radio.

The last major terrorist attack, the one that hit Mumbai in 2008, is believed to have been the work not of al-Qaida but Pakistani extremist group Lashkar-e-Toiba.

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While bin Laden is mainly linked to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in the United States, which killed nearly 3,000 people, he has also been blamed for ordering the 2004 train bombings in Madrid and the attacks on London's subway system in 2005, which killed 191 and 52 people, respectively.

Terrorists linked to al-Qaida have kidnapped Europeans in Africa and the Middle East and Europe has been battling with "homegrown terrorism," a phenomenon dominated by young Muslims who grew up or were born in Europe and have become radicalized.

In Germany, three men in their 20s -- two of them German nationals, one Turk -- in 2007 plotted to execute a series of bomb attacks against U.S. and other targets in Germany.

They received training at a camp of the Islamic Jihad Union, an al-Qaida offshoot, in Pakistan's Waziristan region. The men said they wanted to join active fighting in Iraq or Chechnya but were convinced to return to Europe to plot terror attacks.

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