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Saddam supporters to mark anniversary of execution

world Updated: Dec 30, 2007 08:24 IST
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Loyalists of Saddam Hussein were to mark on Sunday the anniversary of the ousted Iraqi dictator's execution, with crowds expected to gather at his grave in the small village where he was born.

Iraqi security forces said they were on alert for any unrest on the anniversary of Saddam's controversial hanging a year ago following his conviction for crimes against humanity.

"There are men who used to support him, and there are still some of his loyalists left," interior ministry spokesman Abdul Karim Khalaf told a news conference on Saturday.

"If we see any criminal acts aimed at harming our fellow citizens, there are preparations and procedures in place to make certain that such attempts fail."

Saddam, aged 69, was hanged in Baghdad just minutes before the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha began on December 30 last year.

Sunni Muslims celebrated Eid al-Adha this year on December 19, when dozens of Saddam's supporters gathered in the village of Awja, near the central city Tikrit, to lay flowers on his grave and pay their respects.

During the final minutes of his life, Saddam's executioners taunted him in scenes captured on a mobile phone camera which triggered uproar around the world and embarrassed Iraq's Shiite-led government.

Even US President George W Bush, who hailed Saddam's capture in late 2003, sharply criticised the manner of his execution.

In a television interview in January he said the hanging resembled a sectarian "revenge killing" and had made it harder to end the violence plaguing Iraq.