Saddam buried in native village
IRAQ: Saddam Hussein was buried before dawn on Sunday in his native
village of Awja, near Tikrit in northern Iraq, the head of his tribe
Ali al-Nida, head of the Albu Nasir tribe, told journalists the
burial in a family plot took place in the early morning, less than 24
hours after the former president was hanged for crimes against humanity.
His sons Uday and Qusay, killed by U.S. troops in 2003, are also buried
in Awja, close to Tikrit, where tribal elders received the body on
Saturday from Baghdad.
Al Jazeera television also quoted a family source saying Saddam was
buried in Awja, despite a statement from the family late on Saturday
saying the body might be taken from Tikrit to the western city of Ramadi
Iraqi officials in Ramadi said they were unaware of any plan to bury
Saddam, 69, was hanged at dawn on Saturday in a base in Baghdad once
used by his own feared intelligence services.
"It was very quick. He died right away," an official witness told
Reuters, adding that the body was left to hang for 10 minutes and he was
pronounced dead at 6:10 a.m. (0310 GMT).
The bearded Saddam, still robust at 69, refused a hood and declined
to have a cleric present, but said a brief prayer on the gallows once
used by his own secret police.
Grainy video later showed his body in a white shroud, the neck
twisted and blood on a cheek. It was taken to Awja, his native village
near Tikrit, and his family said later he would be buried in the Sunni
insurgent stronghold of Ramadi.
"After the family received the will of the martyred president from
lawyers who last met him where he asked to be buried either in Awja or
Ramadi...it was decided to bury him in the city of Ramadi," a family
statement received by Reuters said. Three decades after Saddam
established his personal rule by force, the execution closed a chapter
in Iraq's history marked by war with Iran and a 1990 invasion of Kuwait
that turned him from ally to enemy of the United States and impoverished
his oil-rich nation.
However, as U.S. President George W. Bush said in a statement,
sectarian violence pushing Iraq towards civil war had not ended.
Car bombs set off by suspected insurgents from Saddam's once-dominant
Sunni minority killed more than 70 people in Baghdad and near the
Shi'ite holy city of Najaf, in areas populated by Shi'ite Muslims
oppressed for decades and now in the ascendant.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, his fragile authority among fellow
Shi'ites significantly enhanced after he forced through Saddam's
execution over Sunni and Kurdish hesitation, reached out to Saddam's
"Saddam's execution puts an end to all the pathetic gambles on a
return to dictatorship," he said in a statement as state television
showed film of him signing the death warrant in red ink. "I
urge...followers of the ousted regime to reconsider their stance as the
door is still open to anyone who has no innocent blood on his hands to
help in rebuilding...Iraq."
There is little prospect of peace from al Qaeda's Sunni Islamists but
Maliki and Bush hope that more moderate Sunnis may choose negotiation
over violence. As on Nov. 5, when Saddam was sentenced over the deaths
of 148 Shi'ites from the town of Dujail, reaction among the Sunni
population was muted.
Unusually, the government did not even see a need for a curfew in
Baghdad. Protests in Saddam's home town and in the Sunni west were
small. Although resentful at a loss of influence, few Sunnis found much
to mourn in Saddam's passing.
Many Kurds were disappointed that Saddam would not now also be
convicted of genocide against them in a trial yet to finish.
With violence killing hundreds every week, Iraqis have other worries.
Even celebrations in Shi'ite cities and the Sadr City slum in Baghdad
were brief and fairly restrained.
Baghdad, Sunday, Reuters