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Bomber targets Saddam

A US bomber hit a Baghdad complex after it was suspected that Saddam and his sons were there.

world Updated: Apr 08, 2003 11:56 IST

An American bomber struck a residential complex in Baghdad on Monday after US intelligence received information that Saddam Hussein, his sons and other top Iraqi leaders might be meeting there, US officials said.

There was no immediate word on who might have been killed, but US officials said they had evidence the target had been destroyed. "There is a big hole where that target used to be," one US official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity.

US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said American intelligence learned on Monday morning of a high-level meeting in Baghdad between senior Iraqi intelligence officials and, possibly, Saddam and his two sons, Qusai and Uday.

The intelligence was passed to US Central Command, which sent aircraft to drop bunker-busting bombs on the target. The attack was carried out by a single B-1B bomber, which dropped fewer than five 907 kilogram bunker-penetrating bombs on the residential building, the officials said.

It came on a day when US forces also occupied two of Saddam's palaces and knocked down a statue of the Iraqi leader as they tried to wrest control of Baghdad from his regime.

Coalition strikes have aimed at top Iraqi leaders since the beginning of the war. US and British troops have invaded at least four of Saddam's many palaces in recent days, including two in Baghdad Monday, looking for information, including clues to where he and his inner circle might be.

On March 19, President Bush authorized a strike on a suburban Baghdad compound where Saddam and his sons were believed to be staying. That strike, like Monday's attack, was based on time-sensitive intelligence.

For days after the initial strike, US officials sorted through intelligence suggesting Saddam may have been killed or injured, but intelligence officials have become increasingly confident he survived that strike.

Earlier Monday, US and British officials said they believed Saddam's top commander in southern Iraq had been killed in a US airstrike.

American warplanes bombed a home in Basra where Saddam's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, was believed to be staying. That attack, too, was based on a time-sensitive tip. Al-Majid was a former Iraqi defense chief whose enemies called him "Chemical Ali" for his role in 1988 chemical weapons attacks on Iraqi Kurds.

Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf denied al-Majid was killed, according to the Arabic-language station Al-Jazeera.