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Saddam hanged

Baghdad, December 30
Saddam Hussein was hanged at dawn today, a dramatic end for a leader who ruled Iraq by fear for three decades before a US invasion toppled him and was then convicted of crimes against humanity.

As day broke on one of the holiest days of the Muslim year and the call to prayer echoed out from minarets across a dark and bitterly cold Baghdad, officially-backed TV channels flashed the news shortly after 6 am. (0300 GMT). The two men hanged alongside Saddam were Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, one of Saddam's three half-brothers and a former director of the fieared Mukhabarat intelligence service, and Awad Ahmed al-Bander al-Sadun, former chief judge of the revolutionary court.

"He has been executed," said a senior US official in Washington, where the death of a man branded a dangerous tyrant and threat to world security was welcomed by an administration facing mounting public dismay at a war in which the American death toll is fast approaching 3,000.

Details of the execution were scant but state television Iraqiya said Saddam, 69, had mounted the scaffold first, followed by his half-brother and a former judge who were convicted with him last month for killing 148 Shi’ite men from the town of Dujail.

“The three men were executed. First Saddam Hussein, then Barzan al-Tikriti and then Awad al-Bander,” an Iraqiya announcer said, reading what he said was an official statement.

The event was filmed but it was unclear when or if images would be shown to help convince Iraqis Saddam is dead. It was not clear where the executions took place, although key officials who were to attend the hanging had told Reuters they had been told to gather in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone government compound. An early execution will delight Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shi’ites, but may anger Sunni minority as well as some Kurds.

Some officials had believed the start of the week-long Eid al-Adha holiday at noon, coinciding with the haj pilgrimage to Mecca, might have caused a delay of the execution before a late night meeting between Maliki and US officials agreed the final procedures.

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