Sharon: 'We can defeat forces of evil'
By Alex Frew McMillan
(CNN) -- Governments around the world condemned Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the United States.
The response was particularly strong in the Middle East with many denouncing the strikes but others expressing anti-American sentiment.
Further east in Asia, nations passed on official condolences and increased security around U.S. interests and sought word on their own citizens and staff in the United States.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in a televised address to his nation, said: "The fight against terrorism is an international struggle of the free world against the forces of darkness who seek to destroy our liberty and way of life.
"Together we can defeat these forces of evil."
Sharon added that Israel was prepared to provide "any assistance at any time" to the United States.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and top aides were glued to events via television, watching from a seaside office in Gaza City.
"I send my condolences to the president, the government and the people for this terrible incident," said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. "We are completely shocked. It's unbelievable."
Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri of Lebanon was also quick in offering condolences to U.S. President George W. Bush.
"These tragic actions contradict all human and religious values," Hariri said in a statement.
But there were also reports of gunfire in celebration of the attacks in Lebanon, home to some 360,000 Palestinian refugees.
Dissident Saudi Billionaire Osama bin Laden was quickly named as a likely suspect for planning the attack that has been compared to Japan's strike on Pearl Harbor.
But the editor of a Pakistani newspaper with ties to bin Laden told CNN that bin Laden denied involvement in any of the attacks.
"I am not involved in this actions in New York and Washington, but I support these actions. I see them as a reaction against the oppressor," he said in a written statement. It went on to add: "When the innocent people were killed in Palestine, why were the people of America silent?"
In the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan expressed grief over the attack.
"We want to tell the American children that Afghanistan feels your pain and we hope that the courts find justice," Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef said.
The Islamic Taliban is the controlling power in Afghanistan.
Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf, called the assault "brutal and horrible."
He expressed the sentiments of many leaders and countries around the world.
"The people and government of Pakistan deeply mourn the enormous and unprecedented loss of innocent lives," Musharraf said. "We share the grief of the American people in this grave national tragedy."
It is undoubtedly the worst peacetime attack, ever, on a single nation.
It is unclear how many people have died in the attacks, which involved hijacked commercial airlines crashing into some of the most important and symbolic buildings in the United States.
But the death toll is certain to be horrific.
Japan PM called to official residence
On Tuesday, Japan's government and many Japanese companies were left searching desperately for their own citizens. Around 20 Japanese companies had offices in the World Trade Center.
Japan's Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, was called back to the official residence to huddle with cabinet members.
"This incident in the United States is extremely cowardly and is beyond what any words can describe," Koizumi said, in a message to U.S. President George W. Bush.
A spokesman for Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said she was monitoring the events.
"She condemns what is obviously the worst terrorist attack on a leader of civilized society,"" the spokesman said, according to Reuters.
South Korea's government ordered its diplomats in New York and Washington to ensure the safety of Koreans overseas, Yonhap news agency reported.
Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo is visiting New York with a South Korean delegation.
South Korea's Yonhap also reported that the ministry of defense had ordered "heightened vigilance" in the wake of the attacks on U.S. targets.
The U.S. State Department in the past week issued a warning to U.S. citizens in South Korea and Japan after getting information about a possible threat to U.S. military facilities and staff in the two Asian countries.
Hong Kong and Taiwan wait for news
In Hong Kong and Taiwan, authorities were trying to confirm how many of their companies were working in the World Trade Center.
Hong Kong's chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, expressed "shock and concern" over the tragedy.
Air authorities in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, joined many nations in canceling all flights to the United States.
China also condemned the attacks, which it called horrific.
Malaysia's Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, cancelled a planned trip to London because of the disaster. Malaysia's national carrier canceled flights and its markets will be closed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the American people, calling the attacks "terrible tragedies," the Kremlin press service said.
As news of the largest-scale terrorist attack in history spread through the world, the U.S. State Department ordered diplomatic posts to take necessary precautions.
Some observers said they were scared as they awaited possible U.S. retribution for the attacks.
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