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High-Level Assassination in Iraq

High-Level Assassination in Iraq

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TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) -- Attackers gunned down the head of Saddam Hussein's tribe, who recently disavowed the ousted dictator, while he rode in a car in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, the regional governor said Tuesday.

Abdullah Mahmoud al-Khattab, who was leader of Saddam's Bani al-Nasiri tribe, was killed Sunday and his son was wounded, said the governor, Hussein al-Jubouri.

Appointed by Saddam as tribal chief, al-Khattab remained close to the dictator during his 35-year rule. But after the U.S.-led invasion, he publicly disavowed Saddam in the presence of local leaders and American troops, residents said.

Al-Khattab "had many enemies and he had confiscated a lot of properties and killed many people," the governor said.

"The person who killed him could have taken revenge," al-Jubouri added.

No arrests have been made. The assailants had been riding in a pickup truck when they shot al-Khattab and fled the scene, residents said.

Saddam grew up in Tikrit and maintained close ties to the town. He lavished largesse on Tikrit and many residents owed him favors.

Unlike other places in Iraq, the ousted dictator still enjoys a degree of popularity here and pro-Saddam graffiti can still be seen. Al-Khattab's killing, however, suggests the town is divided.

People in Tikrit said some were angry at al-Khattab for his close ties to Saddam and others were upset over his decision to disavow the ex-dictator.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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