Saddam Hussein Captured

Deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has been captured near his home town of Tikrit, the U.S. military has confirmed.

Saddam, who ruled Iraq for 23 years until his ouster in April, has been a fugitive since then with a $25 million bounty on his head.

In an address to the nation, President Bush gave the following message to Iraqis: "You do not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again."

He said Saddam's capture will bring sovereignty and dignity to Iraq and the opportunity for a better life. "It is the end of the road for him," he said. "And for the Baathists, there will be no return to privilege in Iraq."

"Iraqis who have chosen the side of freedom, now have won," added President Bush.

"In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over," he said. "A hopeful day has arrived."

‘The Tyrant is a Prisoner’

Confirmation of Saddam's capture came at a news conference in Baghdad after rumors swirled through the Iraqi capital.

The U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, opened the press conference with the words, "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him."

"This is a great day in Iraq's history," Bremer said. "The tyrant is a prisoner."

Bremer said that Saddam was captured Saturday in a cellar in the town of Ad Dawr, 10 miles from Tikrit.

Sanchez described Saddam's demeanor during the arrest, saying he seemed "a tired man. Also I think a man resigned."

Saddam was in a six-to-eight-foot-deep "spider hole" that had been camouflaged with bricks and dirt. The soldiers saw the hole, investigated and found him inside, armed with a pistol, said Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the commander of the 4th Infantry Division that assisted in capturing the leader.

Video played at the press conference showed an air vent and fan inside the hole to allow Saddam to remain hidden for an extended period. There were, however, no communication devices found.

The entrance to the hiding place was a few feet from a small, mud-brick hut where Saddam had been staying.

The hut consisted of two rooms, a bedroom with clothes scattered about and a "rudimentary kitchen," Odierno said. Soldiers found new clothes, including T-shirts and socks, still unwrapped in the bedroom.

Forces from the 4th Infantry Division along with Special Forces captured Saddam, the U.S. military said. There were no shots fired or injuries in the raid, called "Operation Red Dawn," said Lt. Gen. Richardo Sanchez.

‘A New Beginning’ for Iraqis

Saddam was betrayed by one of his own, said Odierno. Over the last 10 days, U.S. soldiers have questioned "five to 10 members" of families "close to Saddam."

"Finally we got the ultimate information from one of these individuals," he said Sunday from Tikrit.

In Baghdad, shop owners closed their doors, worried that all the shooting would make the streets dangerous.

"I'm very happy for the Iraqi people. Life is going to be safer now," said 35-year-old Yehya Hassan, a resident of Baghdad. "Now we can start a new beginning."

Bush first learned of the capture on Saturday afternoon, and was given confirmation early today by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair was among the first U.S. allies to confirm the early reports, saying that "Saddam is gone from power."

U.S. forces officially informed the world of their success and showed a video of Saddam's capture during a news conference in Baghdad today.

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