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UK, U.S. Cannot Confirm Report Saddam Likely Dead
31 minutes ago
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LONDON (Reuters) - British and U.S. officials said on Friday they were unable to confirm a media report that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) was likely killed in the first air strike on Baghdad.

 

Britain's defense chief, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, told BBC television that he was unable to confirm their report quoting a UK government official as saying that Hussein had probably been killed in the first attacks on Iraqi leadership targets.

"I'm certainly unaware of Saddam Hussein's status at the moment," Boyce added.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) also said he had no information on the reports. "No one can answer the question on Saddam, the evidence is inconclusive. We just don't know," he said.

A U.S. official also told Reuters "we don't know" when asked about Saddam's fate.

Iraqi officials on Friday rebuffed speculation their leader had been killed, saying Saddam was safe after two nights of U.S.-led strikes on Baghdad aimed at Iraqi leaders.

"They targeted the houses of Saddam Hussein and his family but they are safe. They are safe," Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf told a news conference.

Saddam last appeared on Iraqi television early on Thursday, hours after the first wave of strikes on Iraq (news - web sites). He wore large glasses to read a text from a notebook denouncing the attacks.

In Washington, a U.S. intelligence official said a CIA (news - web sites) analysis of the speech found it was probably Saddam's voice but that it was unclear when the tape was made.


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