Hunt for Saddam Hussein ‘Gaining Momentum’

 

Tuesday  July 29, 2003

Naseer Al-Nahr • Asharq Al-Awsat

BAGHDAD, 29 July 2003 — The military continued the hunt for Saddam Hussein, hoping to land a knockout blow to loyalists of the fugitive strongman as a US soldier was killed and three were injured yesterday in an explosives attack on their Baghdad convoy.

The death marked the 50th confirmed fatality in attacks on US forces since the war to oust Saddam was declared over May 1 by US President George W. Bush.

The casualties were suffered when an improvised explosive device was thrown from a bridge and exploded, hitting a passing Humvee shuttling supplies on a busy thoroughfare near the Oil Ministry at 11:40 a.m. (0740 GMT), military spokesman J.J. Johnson said.

The violence comes as the coalition forged ahead with its search for Saddam who, the US military said yesterday, was running scared as troops scoured the fallen dictator’s home region of Tikrit. “Life is uncomfortable for these people. These guys are having a hard time just getting on. They are losing their freedom of action. One by one, they are going away,” said Col. Jim Hickey of the army’s 4th Infantry Division.

But as the hunt for Saddam and his shadowy supporters heats up, civilians find themselves caught in the cross fire, raising the question of whether US forces have used excessive force in the front line of a guerrilla-style war.

Hot on last week’s slaying of Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay, a US assault on a home in Baghdad’s wealthy Mansour district, based on a tip-off the fallen dictator was hiding with relatives, ended with five dead, witnesses said.

The coalition meanwhile quietly plodded ahead with its rebuilding efforts, as the US-vetted 25-member governing council convened yesterday to start the process of selecting Cabinet ministers and a president.

Councilwoman Shangul Shapuk told reporters afterward that the council was preparing today to designate its first president since it came into being on July 13, although another member said the council may need up to two more days to hash out internal procedures.

Also yesterday, the coalition began a new electricity scheme for the country.

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