WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring the killing of Osama bin Laden "a good day for America," President Barack Obama said Monday the world was safer without the al-Qaida terrorist and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. His administration used DNA testing to help confirm that American forces in Pakistan had in fact killed bin Laden, as U.S. officials sought to erase all doubt about the stunning news.
"Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can't do," Obama said of the news bound to lift his political standing and help define his presidency. He hailed the pride of those who broke out in overnight celebrations as word spread around the globe.
An elite crew of American forces killed bin Laden during a daring raid on Monday, capping the world's most intense manhunt. Bin Laden was shot in the head during a firefight and then quickly buried at sea. White House officials were mulling the merits and appropriateness of releasing a photo.
As spontaneous celebrations and expressions of relief gave way to questions about precisely what happened and what comes next, U.S. officials warned that the campaign against terrorism is not nearly over - and that the threat of deadly retaliation against the United States and its allies was real.
Senior administration officials said the DNA testing alone offered near 100 percent certainty that bin Laden was among those shot dead. Photo analysis by the CIA, confirmation by a woman believed to be bin Laden's wife on site, and matching physical features like bin Laden's height all helped confirmed the identification.
"We can all agree this is a good day for America," a subdued Obama said during a Medal of Honor ceremony in the glimmering White House East Room.
Still, it was unclear if the world would ever get visual proof.
Senior U.S. officials said bin Laden was killed toward the end of the firefight, which took place in a building at a compound north of Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. His body was put aboard the USS Carl Vinson and placed into the North Arabian Sea.
Traditional Islamic procedures for handling the remains were followed, the officials said, including washing the corpse, placing it in a white sheet.
Across the government, Obama's security team used the occasion to warn that the campaign against terrorists was hardly over.
"The fight continues and we will never waver," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday. Her comments had echoes of former President George W. Bush's declaration nearly a decade ago, when al-Qaida attacks against America led to war in Afghanistan and changed the way Americans viewed their own safety.
Turning to deliver a direct message to bin Laden's followers, she vowed: "You cannot wait us out."
U.S. Capitol Police put on a conspicuous show of force Monday morning with 10 vehicles amassed near Constitution Avenue with their lights flashing and doors and trunks open. Officers armed with automatic weapons kept watch on every vehicle that passed.
Obama himself had delivered the news of bin Laden's killing in a dramatic White House statement late Sunday. "Justice has been done," he said.
Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The military operation that ended bin Laden's life took mere minutes, and there were no U.S. casualties.
U.S. Blackhawk helicopters ferried about two dozen troops from Navy SEAL Team Six, a top military counter-terrorism unit, into the compound identified by the CIA as bin Laden's hideout - and back out again in less than 40 minutes. Bin Laden was shot after he and his bodyguards resisted the assault, officials said.
Three adult males were also killed in the raid, including one of bin Laden's sons, whom officials did not name. One of bin Laden's sons, Hamza, is a senior member of al-Qaida. U.S. officials also said one woman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant, and two other women were injured.
The compound is about a half-mile from a Pakistani military academy, in a city that is home to three army regiments and thousands of military personnel. Abbottabad is surrounded by hills and with mountains in the distance.
Critics have long accused elements of Pakistan's security establishment of protecting bin Laden, though Islamabad has always denied it, and in a statement the foreign ministry said his death showed the country's resolve in the battle against terrorism.
Bin Laden's death came 15 years after he declared war on the United States. Al-Qaida was also blamed for the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in Yemen, as well as countless other plots, some successful and some foiled.