Washington: US leaders have hailed the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, world’s most wanted terrorist, in a US-led operation in Pakistan.

Former US president George W Bush, who ordered a massive manhunt for the elusive leader after 9/11, described the news as a 'momentous achievement'.

“The fight against terror goes on, but America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done,” Bush said in a statement. 

Seconding this, Bill Clinton added, “This is a profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in Al Qaeda's other attacks but for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom, and cooperation for our children.”

Members of US Congress were briefed about the news by Vice President Joe Biden, according to a Senate aide.  Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee, related the news to mourners at a memorial service for political consultant Kam Kuwata.  

Feinstein said Obama was announcing it on TV as she spoke. However, she announced the news well before Obama began to speak.