KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The main U.S. base in Afghanistan fell silent yesterday at the moment the first hijacked jetliner struck the World Trade Center six years ago. Soldiers bowed their heads in prayer.
In the capital, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte said America has made progress in Afghanistan against al Qaeda and the Taliban, even though violence in the country is soaring and Osama bin Laden is still at large six years after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
“I think our best assessment is that he is still alive and that he is somewhere in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area,” Mr. Negroponte said. “I would also make the point that wherever he is, he is hiding.”
Insurgent violence is at its highest level in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that followed the attacks. More than 4,200 people, mostly militants, have died this year in violence related to the insurgency, according to an Associated Press tally based on figures from Afghan and Western officials.
President Hamid Karzai told reporters that he lamented the thousands of people killed in the 2001 attacks, but they helped refocus attention on Afghanistan. He thanked the international community for helping to “return Afghanistan to the people of Afghanistan.”
In Australia, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper urged Parliament not to abandon Afghanistan.
“As 9/11 showed, if we abandon our fellow human beings to lives of poverty, brutality and ignorance in today’s global village, their misery will eventually and inevitably become our own,” Mr. Harper told a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and Senate.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters at his official residence that the Japanese navy should keep providing fuel for coalition warships in the Indian Ocean.
It has been doing so since November 2001 under an anti-terrorism law that has been extended three times but expires in November. The law is a key issue in a special parliament session that opened Monday.
At the U.S. air base near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, servicemen and women laid flowers at a memorial stone dedicated to Peter Ganci, the New York City fire chief who died while rescuing people after the September 11 attacks. The base supports U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country “sincerely shares the grief felt by the American people on this day of mourning — perhaps like no other country.” In remarks carried by Russian news agencies, he noted that Russia has also been a target and “knows the horrors of terrorism firsthand.”
In a letter to President Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the “entire world remembers today the horrifying attack that hit America and plunged it into mourning.”
“The immense emotion and indignation that gripped the American people in the aftermath of these barbarous actions were felt throughout the entire world,” Mr. Sarkozy wrote. He added that France supported the U.S. in its fight against terrorism.
There was little reaction to the anniversary in the Muslim world. But in Washington, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said it “joins with Americans of all faiths in mourning the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and asks that we all use today’s anniversary to enhance our efforts to repudiate religious extremism and to promote mutual understanding.”