Saddam Hussein in video footage released by US forces The US said Saddam Hussein
offered no resistance

Saddam Hussein arrested in Iraq

Ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is in custody following his dramatic capture by US forces in Iraq.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we got him," US administrator Paul Bremer told journalists in Baghdad, to loud cheers from Iraqis in the audience.

The former leader was found hiding in a cellar at a farmhouse about 15km (10 miles) south of his hometown Tikrit.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has welcomed the news, saying it "removes the shadow" hanging over Iraq.

Saddam Hussein, 66, is the most wanted man on the list issued by US authorities but had not been seen since Baghdad fell to US forces in April.

Video footage apparently showing a dishevelled-looking Saddam with a long black and gray beard in custody receiving a medical check-up was shown at the press conference.

Saddam Hussein was found following intelligence indicating he was at one of two possible locations south of Tikrit, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq, said.

Colonel Sanchez then described the sequence of events:

  • About 600 US forces head to the area and conduct intensive searches in Al-Dawr
  • US forces find "rural farmhouse"
  • "Spider hole" or cellar camouflaged with bricks and dirt and about six to eight feet (1.8m to 2.5m) deep located in farmhouse
  • Saddam Hussein found inside and arrested at 2030 local time (1730 GMT) on Saturday - US says he offers no resistance
  • Two unidentified people said to be "close allies" of Saddam Hussein arrested and weapons and more than $750,000 cash confiscated.
Intensive search

Iraqi Governing Council head Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim was quoted as saying that a DNA test had proved the man in custody was Saddam Hussein.
Saddam Hussein under arrest - with beard and without beard Saddam was found dishevelled -
later his beard was shaved off

President George W Bush is due to speak about the arrest in an address to the nation from the White House at about 1700 GMT.

Saddam Hussein had been the object of intensive searches by US-led forces in Iraq but previous attempts to locate him had proved unsuccessful.

US officials said Saddam Hussein was co-operative after his capture and talking politely.

People have started celebrating the capture of their former president in the streets of Baghdad and the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk by sounding their horns and firing into the air.

The former Iraqi leader was last seen in television footage shot in April at a Baghdad market just before the city fell to US forces in the recent Iraq conflict.

US authorities had offered a $25m reward for information leading to his capture.

On 22 July his sons, Uday and Qusay, were killed in a raid by US forces in the northern city of Mosul.

In October, US officials said they had intelligence indicating Saddam Hussein was hiding in Tikrit.

They said he seemed to be moving around various safe houses with the aid of family members, often in disguise.

Saddam Hussein was born in Tikrit and has a tight network of family and clan ties which permeated all of the regime's main military, security and political institutions while he was in power.

Coalition authorities have said that the former Iraqi president could be tried at a war crimes tribunal, with Iraqi judges presiding and international legal experts acting as advisers.

Meanwhile, violence continued in Iraq on Sunday, with at least 17 people killed and 30 wounded after a powerful car bomb exploded at an Iraqi police station in Khaldiyah, about 35 miles (60 km) west of Baghdad.

US officials say it may have been a suicide attack.

'That is good news'

President Bush heard the news of Saddam's capture first from Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at about 2015 GMT on Saturday.

The White House spokesman said Mr Bush interrupted Mr Rumsfeld's first words - "Mr President, the first reports are not always accurate," to say, "This sounds like it's going to be good news".

Mr Rumsfeld told him the military believed it had captured Saddam. "That is good news," Mr Bush replied.

Mr Bush hurried back to the White House from the presidential retreat at Camp David and was kept informed about the process of verifying Saddam Hussein's identity.

Final confirmation of the capture was passed on by US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice early on Sunday.