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WASHINGTON -- Members of Maryland's congressional delegation praised the U.S. raid in Pakistan that led to the death of Osama bin Laden on Sunday, but many members also tempered their optimism by cautioning that the war on terror will continue.

While expressing hope that bin Laden's death would bring closure to the families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, lawmakers also said the threat of terrorism remains real and cautioned the public, in the words of Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, to remain vigilant to "confront the national security threats we face."

"That terrible day has been seared into our memory," the Southern Maryland Democrat, who serves as the House minority whip, said in a statement. "While the enormity of this moment cannot be overstated, we all recognize that the threat of terrorism still exists and we must remain vigilant."

That warning, sounded by lawmakers of both parties, came as the U.S. State Department issued a warning early Monday to citizens traveling and living abroad. Citizens in areas where bin Laden's death could cause anti-American violence, the statement said, were strongly encouraged to limit travel.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a member of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, called bin Laden's death a "historic day for our country," but warned that terrorists will continue to harbor "predatory intent" toward the country.

"While bin Laden is dead, the hateful ideology he espouses will persist," Mikulski said in a statement. "Al Qaeda is a resilient operation."

She said the country must be vigilant and prepared.

"The death of Osama bin Laden is an important milestone in the fight against terrorism and a relief to millions of Americans and others around the world who have felt his murderous destruction," Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin said in a statement. "All Americans can feel safer knowing that bin Laden is dead, but we must remain vigilant in the continued fight against al-Qaida and any terrorists who seek to harm our nation."

Gov. Martin O'Malley said, “This closes a sad and tragic chapter in our country and our world’s history. Commend the men and women of our Armed Forces and the dedicated public servants of our nation’s security agencies. This should be a day of reflection and prayer for a more peaceful future.”

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, praised the work of intelligence professionals who tracked bin Laden down.

"This is a great day for America," Ruppersberger said. "Bin Laden had the blood of thousands of people on his hands. Justice has now been done."

Baltimore Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, also a Democrat, said the "moment of justice" must be "tempered with caution," and noted that the nation's fight is with terrorism, not Islam.

"The pursuit of bin Laden has been only one part of our war on international terrorism — a war that has cost the lives of more than 6,000 American soldiers," Cummings said. "Though it took years, the death of Osama bin Laden shows the righteous might of our citizens and our military in response to the dastardly attacks on innocent American civilians."

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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