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From Sydney to Paris, world leaders, citizens mark 9/11 a decade later with reflection, grief
PARIS (AP) ' An American expatriate in Paris cries over an indelible memory of sadness. Taps echoes from Brussels to Bagram, Afghanistan. An Israeli retiree remembers her daughter: "My world was destroyed. For me, every day is Sept. 11."
A decade after 9/11, the day that changed so much for so many people, the world's leaders and citizens paused to reflect Sunday on terror attacks in the U.S. that took nearly 3,000 lives of people from more than 90 countries.
In a reminder that threats remain, a Taliban suicide bomber killed two civilians and injured scores of U.S. soldiers in eastern Afghanistan.
Untold millions around the world pored over the memories of shock, sadness and stupefaction where they saw televised images or heard of the attacks 10 years ago ' or learned of a friend or relative who had died.
The mostly somber commemorations from Sydney to Spain stood out against pockets of protest and the resuscitation of controversial old claims that the U.S. government itself was behind the attacks.
"On this day Kyrgyzstan, like all the world, shares the grief of the United States," said President Roza Otunbayeva at a ceremony at a U.S. air base in her central Asian country, which has supported military operations in nearby Afghanistan. "This tragedy consolidated humanity and brought it together in the fight against the common enemy of terrorism."
About 500 soldiers gathered at Bagram Air Field near the Afghan capital, Kabul, for a ceremony in front of a piece of World Trade Center rubble. It was briefly interrupted by a reminder of war ' when a fighter jet buzzed closely overhead.
At NATO's headquarters in Brussels, a French soldier played taps and the flags of 28 alliance states were lowered to half-staff as a tribute to the victims. About 130,000 NATO troops ' two-thirds of them Americans ' now serve in Afghanistan. More than 2,700 service members have died in that war.
For some, the pain of 9/11 never stops. In Malaysia, Pathmawathy Navaratnam woke up Sunday in her suburban Kuala Lumpur home and did what she's done every day for the past decade: wish her son Vijayashanker Paramsothy "Good morning."
The 23-year-old financial analyst was killed in the attacks in New York.
"He is my sunshine. He has lived life to the fullest, but I can't accept that he is not here anymore," Navaratnam said. "I am still living, but I am dead inside."
In a forest outside Jerusalem, where a bronze sculpture of the American flag stands in memory of the 9/11 victims, 65-year-old retiree Miriam Avraham remembered her daughter Alona, who was on board United Airlines Flight 175 when the plane plowed into the South Tower.
"Sept. 11 is everything," said Avraham, who wore a photograph of her smiling, 30-year-old daughter pinned to her shirt. "My daughter was killed. My world was destroyed. For me, every day is Sept. 11."
In Manila, dozens of former shanty dwellers in one neighborhood offered roses, balloons and prayers for another victim, U.S. citizen Marie Rose Abad. It used to be squalid, and reeking of garbage. But in 2004, her Filipino-American husband Rudy built 50 brightly colored homes, fulfilling his late wife's wish to help impoverished Filipinos. The village has since been named after her.
The Sept. 11 attacks spawned many conspiracy theories around the world, especially among Islamists who allege American or Israeli involvement. In Pakistan, about 100 supporters of an Islamist political party staged anti-U.S. protests in Islamabad and Multan, hoisting banners that repeated such conspiracy theories. In Karachi, another 100 people protested the war in Afghanistan, launched in response to the attacks.
In London, a few dozen demonstrators from a group called Muslims Against Crusades gathered outside the U.S. Embassy. One group set fire to a depiction of a U.S. flag during a minute's silence held to mark the moment when the first hijacked airliner slammed into the World Trade Center. Two Islamic protesters were later arrested near the memorial.
But little attention was paid to such angry events and comments on a day dominated by sorrow and remembrance.
In Japan, families gathered in Tokyo to pay their respects to 23 Fuji Bank employees who never made it out of their World Trade Center office. A dozen of the workers who died 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.
Sydney resident Rae Tompsett, 81, said she's 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 Center'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, were among more than 1,000 people who packed Sydney's Roman Catholic cathedral St. Marys for a special multi-faith service.
Pope Benedict XVI, at an outdoor Mass in Ancona, Italy, prayed for victims and urged the world to resist what he called the "temptation toward hatred" and instead work for solidarity, justice and peace.
On a square overlooking the Eiffel Tower in Paris, hundreds turned out for a ceremony at two nine-story scaffolding towers erected as makeshift replicas of the twin towers ' with "The French will never forget" written on them. Children released doves in the air to symbolize peace.
"Before I came here I was watching some of the old footage, and the feeling just doesn't go away," said Margaret Ware, an American resident of Paris, with tears in her eyes. "The horror of it ' the violation ' it doesn't go away even after 10 years."
In Madrid, about 150 people, some waving American flags, attended a commemorative planting of 10 American oak trees in a park led by Prince Felipe and other dignitaries.
The Taliban marked the anniversary by vowing to keep fighting against U.S. forces in Afghanistan and insisting that they had no role in the Sept. 11 attacks.
"American colonialism shed the blood of tens of thousands of miserable and innocent Afghans," a statement e-mailed to news organizations said.
Hours later, a Taliban suicide bomber blew up a large truck at the gate of a Combat Outpost Sayed Abad in Afghanistan's eastern Wardak province, killing two civilians and injuring 77 U.S. troops.
The U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, after the Taliban who then ruled the country refused to hand over 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 U.S. and other countries. Bin Laden was killed four months ago at his Pakistan hideout by U.S. forces.
"Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, my brother's soul will finally rest in peace," said Yambem Laba, whose younger brother Jupiter Yambem was among the victims.
Jupiter, an Indian, was a manager at the "Windows on the World" restaurant in the World Trade Center.
About 100 family members and close friends gathered at his ancestral home in the northeastern state of Manipur for prayers Sunday.
Before the 10th anniversary, Italian newspaper La Stampa interviewed 100 young people aged 7 to 20, on the street, by phone or Facebook. Parents were asked to ask their children: "What happened on Sept. 11?"
Replies printed by La Stampa on Sunday ranged from indifference, ignorance, shock to skepticism.
Some world leaders appeared determined to fight any oblivion. In a ceremony in Australia's capital, Canberra, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said her country remained committed to the fight against terrorism.
"On this day, on behalf of millions of Australians, I can say this: We do not forget. We never forget. United always in remembrance. United always in resolve," she said.
Nick Perry reported from Wellington, New Zealand. AP writers from around the world contributed to this report.