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Saddam Hussein in US Custody - 2003-12-15


Saddam Hussein, the fugitive former president of Iraq, has been captured alive in a raid north of Baghdad.

The U.S. administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, told a Baghdad news conference "we got him...the tyrant is a prisoner."

Mr. Bremer said Saddam was captured by coalition forces Saturday evening local time (17-hours-30 Universal Time) during a raid south of Tikrit, Saddam's home town.

Mr. Bremer also used the announcement to appeal to Saddam's followers to end continuing violence in Iraq.

U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez followed with details of the capture, including the release of a video, showing a heavily bearded and disheveled Saddam being examined by a doctor. The tape also showed Saddam after he was shaved.

Iraqi reporters at the news conference erupted into shouts and cheers as the tape was shown.

General Sanchez says the ousted leader is in good health and was "talkative" and cooperative. He said the ousted leader is now in U.S. custody at an undisclosed location.

The general said no shots were fired during the raid that ended the eight-month manhunt. He said Saddam had been hiding in a small hole -- he called it "a spider hole" -- located in a small underground cellar.

General Sanchez called Saddam's capture "a defining moment in the new Iraq," but he said he did not expect it to end all attacks.

Saddam disappeared from public view at the start of the Iraq war in March. Rumors about his death or capture have surfaced periodically since then.

(all wires, monitored, prev) ## me/lcl/wjk

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