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Saddam Hussein's fate uncertain, Washington Post says.

WASHINGTON, March 21 Kyodo

U.S. intelligence officials are not certain whether Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was killed or injured or escaped unhurt when his compound in southern Baghdad was struck by a barrage of U.S. bombs and cruise missiles early Thursday, the Washington Post reported in its online edition Friday.

The officials believe the Iraqi leader, possibly accompanied by one or both of his sons, was still inside the compound at the time of the U.S. attack, the newspaper said.

''The preponderance of the evidence is he was there when the building blew up,'' said one senior U.S. official with access to sensitive intelligence.

The paper quoted the official as saying that Saddam's sons, Qusay and Uday, may also have been at the compound. ''He didn't get out'' beforehand, another senior official said of the Iraqi president.

A third administration official said, ''There is evidence that he (Saddam) was at least injured'' because of indications that medical attention was urgently summoned on his behalf. The condition of the sons, and any others who may have been at the compound, was also unknown, officials said.

While U.S. intelligence monitored Iraqi government communications and movements Thursday to pick up signs of Saddam's fate, the administration's attention was focused on a videotape of an appearance by Saddam broadcast on Iraqi television within hours of the pre-dawn bombardment, the newspaper said.

In the videotape, Saddam referred to the date of the attack and use the term ''dawn'' to explain the attack.

The paper quoted U.S. officials as saying that they were not surprised by the broadcast because they had information that the Iraqi leader had recorded several statements earlier in the week in anticipation of a military strike shortly after the expiration of a U.S. deadline for Saddam and his sons to leave the country.

Officials was also quoted as saying they were receiving conflicting analysis of the identity of the man in the broadcast, noting that Saddam has long been reported to use doubles as a precaution against assassination.

Technical analysts, who used digital enhancement techniques and triangulation measurements of facial proportions, assessed that the broadcast depicted the real Saddam.

But the U.S. government also consulted Parisoula Lampsos, who the Defense Department believes has passed a polygraph examination in support of her claim that she was Saddam's mistress in Iraq for many years. Lampsos has previously distinguished Saddam from his doubles in more than a dozen cases, one official said, and this time she said he was not the man in the broadcast.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Mar 25, 2003
Words:428
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