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Senior Republican Guard Official Captured

Senior Republican Guard Official Captured

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MOSUL, Iraq (AP) -- U.S. forces captured a senior Republican Guard official Wednesday, a day after killing Saddam Hussein's sons Odai and Qusai in a four-hour gunbattle. But the bloody insurgency showed no signs of letting up, as attacks claimed the lives of two more American soldiers.

The head of the Special Republican Guard, Barzan Abd al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid al-Tikriti, was seized at an undisclosed location in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told a news conference in Baghdad. The capture lowers the number of the 55 most-wanted still at large to 18 after the deaths of Saddam's sons.

Also Wednesday, a new tape aired by an Arab satellite TV broadcaster and purportedly made by Saddam on Sunday called on fighters loyal to him to persist in their uprising against the U.S.-led occupation force.

On the streets of Baghdad, where celebratory gunfire broke out Tuesday, residents said they wished American forces had captured Saddam's sons alive -- ready to stand trial, face their victims and suffer punishment for the horrors they inflicted on Iraq.

"We are happy for this, but we hoped that they would have been captured instead of killed so that they could have been tried by the Iraqi people," said Jassim Jabar, a 22-year-old tailor. "I hope Saddam will face the same fate soon."

Others didn't believe the Americans had finally run the brothers to ground.

Sanchez said that the coalition would provide proof "in due time" to the Iraqi people that Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, second only to their father in power in the ousted regime, were killed in the U.S. raid on a palatial villa in this northern city Tuesday.

Dental records, X-rays and four former senior figures from the Saddam regime -- including presidential secretary Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti -- helped establish certainty that the two sons were dead.

He said dental records were a 100 percent match for Qusai and a 90 percent match for Odai. Injuries to Odai's teeth made it impossible to achieve a perfect match.

Two other Iraqis, including a teenager, were killed. The teen was thought to have been Qusai's son, Mustafa. The other man was believed to have been a bodyguard, U.S. officials said. But Sanchez said experts have yet to identify the bodies.

Sanchez defended the decision to kill the suspects hiding in the house, saying they had repeatedly fired on troops trying to enter the fortified second floor of the palatial villa.

"That was the decision made by the commander on the ground and that was right decision," Sanchez said. "He made the right decision based on the conditions on the ground."

"Our mission was find, kill or capture," he said. "We had an enemy that was barricaded and we had to take measures to neutralize the target."

Sanchez told CNN that four Americans wounded in the raid were not seriously hurt. Three have returned to duty, and the fourth will do so soon, he said.

He said he believed the $30 million bounty for Odai and Qusai would be paid, but gave no details about who tipped the Americans to the hideout.

American soldiers on patrol in Tarmiyah, a town 30 miles north of Baghdad, were elated by the news of the deaths of Saddam's eldest sons.

"This is the best thing that can happen to the coalition," said Army Capt. Sean C. Nowlan, 31, of the Fort Carson, Colo.-based 4th Infntry Division. "It deflates their campaign against us."

But the euphoria was short-lived.

On Wednesday, a U.S. soldier was killed and six wounded in an attack on a convoy near Mosul, the same northern town were Odai and Qusai died, the military reported. In a separate incident Tuesday night, a convoy was attacked in Ramadi, 60 miles west of the capital, killing one soldier and wounding two more.

The two deaths brought to 155 the number of American soldiers killed in action since the war began March 20, surpassing by eight the death toll in the 1991 Gulf War.

In an interview with CNN, Sanchez said deaths of the two sons may be a "turning point" in the campaign against the remnants of Saddam's regime. But he warned there may be "a spike" in attacks on U.S. forces.

In the tape, Saddam purportedly said: "Yes, this war has not ended. ... The will of the people will not be subdued by the enemy."

There was no way to immediately and independently verify it was the former dictator, although it sounded like him.

Commenting on the tape, Mohammed al-Douri, Iraq's former ambassador to the United Nations, said it was Saddam but that he no long has any significant influence in the country.

"It is an attempt on behalf of Saddam Hussein to tell the Iraqi people and the world that he is still there," he said. "This is his voice, Saddam is there, but I do not think that he has any effective role over the Iraqi people."

An American commander said the person who tipped U.S. forces to the presence of the brothers Monday night was in protective custody in Iraq.

When asked why, Col. Joe Anderson, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, said: "People know who owns the house, so that's a factor," Anderson said, refusing to say if the tipster and the owner of the villa were the same person.

The house belonged to Nawaf al-Zaydan Muhhamad, a Saddam cousin and tribal leader in the region.

Across the street from the vast villa where Odai and Qusai Hussein were killed in a joint operation by the 101st Airborne Division and U.S. Special Forces, Seed Badr, 50, a gray-bearded taxi driver wearing a blue Arab robe, cursed the Americans.

"This is terrorism. They are killers."

Asked what he thought of the operation to kill Odai and Qusai, Badr responded: "I think the house was empty."

Some Mosul residents said Mosul's reputation as a safe, quiet place likely drew the brothers to hide out in the villa of a Saddam cousin.

"They probably came here because it's safe. People here don't have any connection with Saddam," said 36-year-old businessman Muhammad Khalil, as he stood outside the remains of the three-story home.

There was no evidence the brothers were directly guiding the guerrilla war against U.S. forces, with attacks averaging 12 daily. Knowledge that they were still alive, however, was believed to have been a significant factor for the resistance, which hoped to wear down the coalition occupation.

The brothers' deaths Tuesday were expected by many analysts to be a major blow to the resistance movement.

Several dozen U.S. soldiers relaxed in front of the gutted mansion, their weapons mostly pointed toward the ground. There were 12 Humvees and an armored troop carrier, but no Bradley fighting vehicles or tanks.

He said that 10 TOW anti-tank missile fired from Humvees had silenced most of the resistance, apparently killing three of the four suspects. The battle ended at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday, when troops stormed up the stairs to the second floor and shot the remaining suspect.

The bodies of Odai and Qusai -- long feared by most Iraqis for their roles in the military and intelligence arms of Saddam's brutal dictatorship -- were taken to the Baghdad International Airport base of American forces Wednesday to be flown out of the country, U.S. officials said. They would not say why the bodies were being taken out of Iraq or to where.

The mansion in Mosul sits in a neighborhood of sprawling villas and opposite a mosque. A house across the street also was damaged, along with 10 to 12 others nearby.

The Army strung a helix of razor wire around the perimeter of the villa. Outside a few hundred people gathered, chanting: "We sacrifice our blood and souls for you, Saddam" when television cameras arrived.

Asked whether he thought the killings of his sons meant Saddam soon would be found, Khalil said: "One should be close to the other."

Mohammad Ali, 15, said he witnessed the raid, hiding in a nearby alley.

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

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