- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 17, 2003

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s U.S.-backed Governing Council said yesterday that captured ex-dictator Saddam Hussein was being held in the Baghdad area and would face a public trial in Iraq.

“Saddam Hussein is present in an area of greater Baghdad,” council member Mowaffaq al-Rubaie told reporters.

“He was not moved to Qatar. This report was denied by [U.S. administrator L. Paul] Bremer and the coalition authority. … He will be tried in Iraq in public by an Iraqi court.”

Council member Adnan Pachachi confirmed that Mr. Bremer had said Saddam was still in the country.

U.S. officials have said Saddam, captured by American forces near Tikrit on Saturday, was at an “undisclosed location” and that his fate would be decided by the Iraqi people.

Violence and instability continued yesterday in the wake of his capture, and U.S. forces killed three attackers and detained 11 suspected guerrillas in a major crackdown.

Also, 10 persons were killed in a fuel-tanker explosion in Baghdad that triggered anxiety until the U.S. military said the blast was an accident.

U.S. forces said the three attackers who were killed tried to mount a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Mosul. A fourth attacker was wounded.

There also were violent protests in parts of the Sunni Muslim “triangle” in central Iraq, where Saddam had his power base.

Iraqi officials issued a statement saying the northern oil-export pipeline could not reopen due to the threat of sabotage. Adel Kazzaz, head of the North Oil Co., said the pipeline to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast had been attacked during the weekend.

“Security measures remain insufficient to start the pipeline,” Mr. Kazzaz said in remarks that played a part in U.S. oil prices rising to their highest level since the Iraq war began.

The American military said it had stepped up an offensive to stamp out attacks on U.S.-led occupying forces and Iraqis cooperating with the United States. The attacks are blamed on supporters of Saddam and foreign Islamic militants.

Nearly 200 U.S. soldiers have been killed in attacks since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1.

U.S. forces said they arrested eight more persons in Samarra, some 60 miles north of Baghdad, as part of operations in the area that netted 73 suspects Tuesday.

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