US marks 9/11 attacks anniversary

A man runs past the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial at sunrise across from New York's Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, on 11 September 2013 A man runs past the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial at sunrise in New Jersey
Daniel Henry, a Port Authority of New York/New Jersey police officer, pauses during a moment of silence at 9:01 am EDT, at the South reflecting pool of the 9/11 Memorial on 11 September 2013 A police officer pauses during a moment of silence at the 9/11 Memorial's reflecting pool
US President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden and Jill Biden observe a moment of silence to mark the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on 11 September 2013 US President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden and Jill Biden observe a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House
A attendee touches the stone with names of the 9/11 victims at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York 11 September 2013 A woman touches the metal plate with names of the 9/11 victims at memorial in New York City
A man gazes at the One World Trade Center as church bells toll for 9/11 victims on 11 September 2013 A man gazes at the new One World Trade Center building as church bells toll for 9/11 victims

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The US has remembered the victims of the 9/11 attacks in a series of memorials marking the 12th anniversary.

The 11 September 2001 attacks killed almost 3,000 people in New York, the Washington DC area and Pennsylvania.

In New York, families of the victims read the names of each person who died at the World Trade Center.

President Barack Obama honoured the dead at a memorial ceremony outside the Pentagon.

"We pray for the memory of all those taken from us... Our hearts still ache for the futures snatched away, the lives that might have been," he said.

The attacks led to a long war in Afghanistan and created an expansion of government surveillance powers that have recently been the subject of intense debate.

'Gone but not forgotten'

A separate memorial service was held outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, honouring the passengers and crew of United Flight 93. They struggled with the hijackers of the plane, preventing it from hitting its intended target, believed to be the White House or the US Capitol building.

All 33 passengers and seven crew members on the flight were killed after the plane crashed into a field about 75 miles (120km) south-east of Pittsburgh.

The White House marked the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with a memorial service

"No matter how many years pass, this time comes around each year, and it's always the same," Karen Hinson, who lost her brother, Michael Wittenstein, in New York, told the Associated Press news agency. His body was never found.

More than 1,000 people gathered on Wednesday at the National September 11 memorial plaza in New York City to read the names of all those killed in the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the building.

Bagpipes and a youth choir began the proceedings, held around two reflecting pools that stand in the footprint of the destroyed towers.

"To my nephew Michael Joseph Mullin, we miss you and think of you every single day," said one of the 250 people chosen to read names, many of them family members of the victims.

"You're gone but not forgotten," another woman said of her lost cousin.

The reading was paused for several moments of silence, including 8:46 local time (12:46 GMT), when the first plane hit the North Tower; when the second plane hit the South Tower; when each building fell; and when the third and fourth planes hit the Pentagon and the field outside Shanksville.

Timelapse of One World Trade Center's construction

A number of other cities held memorial services on Wednesday.

Builders are meanwhile putting the finishing touches to the new World Trade Center tower and a museum dedicated to the attacks.

One World Trade Center is now the tallest building in the Western hemisphere, its spire reaching to 1,776ft (541m), a symbolic number alluding to the year of the US Declaration of Independence.

On Tuesday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for what will be a visitor centre on the site of the Flight 93 national memorial park.

The building, expected to open in late 2015, will be broken in two where the plane flew overhead. Visitors have already left 35,000 tributes at the site.

Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, in which 19 hijackers also died when they seized control of four planes, crashing three of them into their intended targets.

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