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Saddam’s bunker never existed: TV network

May 30, 2003

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WASHINGTON, May 29: An underground bunker in Baghdad which the United States said it targeted on the first night of the Iraq invasion to eradicate Saddam Hussein never existed, a US television network reported.

US planes hit the Dora Farms complex in southern Baghdad with bombs and cruise missiles on March 20, but US teams who have searched the site since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government on April 9 have found no trace of the bunker or any bodies, CBS news reported on Wednesday.

“When we came out here the primary thing they were looking for was an underground facility, or bodies, forensics,” CBS quoted Colonel Tim Madere, the head of the search operation as saying.

“And basically what they saw was giant holes created. No underground facilities, no bodies.”

CBS, which said it was the first news organisation to visit Dora Farms, reported that every structure in the compound was destroyed, except the main palace, which was hidden behind a wall topped by electrified barbed wire.

“It’s a shambles, windows have been blown out, but it is not destroyed,” said CBS reporter David Martin.

Madere said a person in the house “could have survived.”

The US Air Force dropped four 2,000-pound (900 kilo) bombs on the site because intelligence said there was a bunker complex hidden beneath the buildings. But Madere has yet to find it.

The compound has been searched three times, once by the Central Intelligence Agency and twice by Madere, who is trying to find traces of Saddam’s DNA to see if he has been killed.

The fate of the Iraqi leader and his family remains unknown though press reports have said that one of his notorious sons, Uday, has tried to negotiate his surrender.

SHOOTING: The US army has launched an investigation into reports that US troops shot dead three young Iraqi men celebrating a wedding in Samarra earlier this week, commanders announced on Thursday.

Hospital officials said that the trio died after soldiers of the Fourth Infantry Division fired on their truck as they rode around the town, 60 kilometres north of the capital, with two other vehicles, firing in the air to celebrate the wedding.

“The allegation was that three young males died as a result of this contact,” said commander Lieutenant General David McKiernan.—AFP