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SLUG: 2-310854 Saddam Capture Wrap Update (L)









INTRO: President Bush has hailed the capture of Saddam Hussein as the end of a dark and painful era in Iraq's history. As V-O-A's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington, U-S soldiers found the former Iraqi leader hiding in a small underground space Saturday night, and took him into custody without firing a shot.

TEXT: Speaking from the White House, President Bush said Saddam's capture was crucial to the U-S-led mission in Iraq.

/// BUSH ACT #1 ///

I have a message for the Iraqi people. You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again.

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Bush added, though, that Saturday's arrest does not mean the end of violence in Iraq.

/// BUSH ACT #2 ///

We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East. Such men are a direct threat to the American people and they will be defeated.

/// END ACT ///

Saddam Hussein's arrest was formally announced in Baghdad Sunday by the U-S administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer.

/// BREMER ACT ///

Ladies and gentlemen, we've got him. (cheering)

/// END ACT ///

Saddam was captured late Saturday in a small underground space near a farmhouse outside his hometown of Tikrit.

U-S forces found the ousted Iraqi leader with a loaded pistol. But Major General Raymond Odierno, commander of the U-S military division that made the arrest, said no shots were fired.


He was in the bottom of a hole, so there was no way he could fight back. So, he was just caught like a rat.

/// END ACT ///

/// OPT /// General Odierno said U-S troops acted on information received from someone close to the fugitive ex-leader. He added that Saddam did not appear to be directly organizing resistance -- noting that no communication devices were found in the hiding place. /// END OPT ///

The top U-S military commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, said American authorities are certain they have nabbed the right man.


We are in the process of doing more conclusive tests on the identification. But we are sure, as you all saw, that we have Saddam Hussein. And we did get positive identification on him from some of our other detainees.

/// END ACT ///

General Sanchez said U-S authorities are interrogating Saddam at an undisclosed location.

U-S forces released video of a heavily bearded and disheveled Saddam, who put up no resistance as a doctor examined him. The tape also showed a later image of Saddam, after his beard had been shaved off.

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.

V-O-A correspondent Alisha Ryu went to Tikrit from Baghdad. She described the jubilation she saw on the streets.

/// BAGHDAD celebratory gunfire sound -- fade in, est, fade under ///

/// RYU ACT ///

There is a tremendous amount of celebrating going on. Just before I left Baghdad, I heard an amazing amount of gunfire, celebratory gunfire. There seems to be a great deal of relief among Iraqis that this has finally been confirmed. But certainly in Baghdad and elsewhere, certainly in the south of Iraq, in Basra and the mainly, pre-dominantly Shiite areas, where Saddam brutally repressed the Shiite people, this must come as a tremendous relief to them.

/// END ACT ///

Congratulations poured in from around the world. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, America's staunchest ally in Europe, said the deposed Iraqi leader is gone from power and will not be coming back.

/// BLAIR ACT ///

Where his rule meant terror and division and brutality, let his capture bring about unity, reconciliation and peace between all the people of Iraq.

/// END ACT ///

European leaders, even those who prominently opposed the Iraq war, reacted favorably to Saddam Hussein's capture. In the Middle East, Israel reacted with joy, while the Palestinian Authority had a notably muted reaction. Other governments in the region said they hope the capture will help Iraqi people restore law and order to their war-ravaged country.

Meanwhile, the violence in Iraq continues. A powerful car bomb ripped through a police station in western Iraq Sunday. At least 17 people were killed and 30 were wounded.

The bombing was the latest in a string of insurgent attacks on Iraqis seen as cooperating with U-S-led coalition forces in Iraq.

Shortly after the announcement that Saddam Hussein had been captured, another large explosion rocked central Baghdad, but caused no casualties. (SIGNED)


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