World marks September 11 attacks

Commemorations marking the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks got underway today as officials and families of the lost gathered in solidarity.

Commemorations marking the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks got underway today as officials and families of the lost gathered in solidarity.

Players from the American Eagles rugby team joined hundreds of others at a memorial service in the town of New Plymouth, New Zealand.

The team is in the country to play in the Rugby World Cup tournament. US ambassador David Huebner also attended the service at St Andrews church.

People across the world plan to commemorate the day, while world leaders are sending messages of mourning and hope.

In Australia, Sydney resident Rae Tompsett said she has never felt angry over the murder of her son Stephen Tompsett, 39, a computer engineer who was on the 106th floor of the World Trade Centre's north tower when it was hit by a hijacked plane.

"No, not anger," she said. "Sorrow. Sorrow that the people who did this believed they were doing something good."

The retired school teacher and her husband Jack, 92, are planning to attend Sunday morning mass as usual at their local church before going to a commemorative service in the afternoon.

"It's incredible that it is 10 years - it feels a bit like yesterday," Mrs Tompsett said.

In the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino III praised the heroism shown by many on 9/11.

"Most of all, this is a day for all nations and peoples to reaffirm their commitment to peace and stability built on mutual respect and dialogue between cultures and religions," a statement said.

South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak sent a letter to US President Barack Obama, conveying his "deepest condolences" to the victims of the 9/11 tragedy, their bereaved families and the American public.

Mr Lee, whose country is one of the strongest allies of the United States, called the attacks "unpardonable" and praised decade-long US efforts to fight terrorism.

In Malaysia, Pathmawathy Navaratnam remembered her son, Vijayashanker Paramsothy, a 23-year-old financial analyst who was killed in the attacks on New York.

"He is my sunshine. He has lived life to the fullest, but I can't accept that he is not here anymore," said Ms Navaratnam. "I am still living, but I am dead inside."

In Manila, dozens of former shanty dwellers offered roses, balloons and prayers for another 9/11 victim, American citizen Marie Rose Abad.

The neighbourhood used to be a shantytown that reeked of rubbish. But in 2004, Ms Abad's Filipino-American husband built 50 brightly coloured homes, fulfilling his late wife's wish to help impoverished Filipinos.

The village has since been named after her.

"It's like a new life sprang from the death of Marie Rose and so many others," said villager Nancy Waminal.

Leaders in Pakistan, which has been a victim of al Qaida terrorism but is also accused of not doing enough to crack down on militants, said they joined the people of the US in honouring the memory of those killed 10 years ago.

"As a country that has been severely affected by terrorism, we reaffirm our national resolve to strengthening international cooperation for the elimination of terrorism," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

In Japan, families gathered in Tokyo to pay their respects to the 23 Fuji Bank employees who never made it out of their World Trade Centre office. A dozen of the workers were Japanese.

One by one, family members laid flowers in front of an enclosed glass case containing a small section of steel retrieved from Ground Zero.

They clasped their hands and bowed their heads. Some took pictures. Others simply stood in solemn silence. There were no tears, just reflection.

The Taliban marked the anniversary by vowing to keep fighting against US forces in Afghanistan and saying they had no role in the September 11 attacks.

"Each year, 9/11 reminds the Afghans of an event in which they had no role whatsoever," a statement emailed to news organisations said.

"American colonialism shed the blood of tens of thousands of miserable and innocent Afghans."

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, after the Taliban who then ruled the country refused to hand over September 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

The al-Qaida leader was at the time living in Afghanistan, where the terror network retained training camps and planned attacks against the US and other countries.

Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the victims of the September 11 terror attacks and called on world leaders and others to resist what he calls the "temptation toward hatred".

The pontiff noted the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks during remarks to the faithful at the end of an outdoor Mass he was celebrating in the Italian seacoast town of Ancona today.

Benedict said he is urging leaders and "men of good will" to swear off violence forever as a way to solve problems and instead work for solidarity, justice and peace.

Benedict sent a letter on Saturday to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan insisting that violence never be carried out in God's name.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the United States used the September 11 attacks as an excuse for launching wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said the attacks were a "complicated, designed game" to affect people's emotions and pave way for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

He also said the US launched those wars to solve its own economic problems. Mr Ahmadinejad's remarks appeared on Iranian state TV's website today.

The Iranian leader has repeatedly questioned the official version of the events surrounding the September 11 attacks, calling it a "big lie."

In 2010, New York turned down his request to visit the World Trade Centre site to pay respects to the victims of the terrorist attacks.

Supporters of an Islamist political party in Pakistan used the anniversary of the September 11 attacks to stage anti-American protests.

In Islamabad, about 100 people chanted and held up banners that repeated conspiracy theories alleging American or Israeli involvement in the attacks.

Such theories have been commonly aired among Islamists and militant sympathisers since the attacks in 2001.

A smaller demonstration also took place in the central Punjabi city of Multan.

Both demonstrations were organised by Jamat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamist political party

Pakistan has been hit by hundreds of bombings since September 11, 2001, by al Qaida and Taliban militants who still find some support in the country.

More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox