Bush has war trophy: Saddam's pistol

WASHINGTON - President Bush keeps in his White House offices a trophy of one his high points in the Iraq war, the pistol that Saddam Hussein held when soldiers pulled him from his underground hideaway.

Military specialists mounted the sidearm, and soldiers who helped in the deposed Iraqi president's capture presented it to the president, the White House said Sunday. The president keeps the gun in a small study adjoining the Oval Office.

"The president was proud of the performance and bravery of our armed forces and was honored to receive it on behalf of the troops involved in the operation," said White House spokesman Jim Morrell.

Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of 4th Infantry Division, said that Saddam had the loaded pistol on his lap but didn't move to use it against the Americans who surprised him in what the military described as a spider hole near his hometown, Tikrit, on Dec. 13.

Soldiers from Odierno's division conducted the raid that ended Saddam's seven months on the run.

Time magazine first reported the story in its edition on newsstands Monday.

Assailants ambush convoy near Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Assailants ambushed a convoy of Britons on a northern Baghdad highway on Sunday, killing one Iraqi security guard and a bystander, officials and witnesses said. U.S. soldiers came under fire in a Shiite holy city as an agreement to halt fighting there appeared to be unraveling.

Two American soldiers were wounded in the clashes around the holy city, Najaf, the military said. Fighting erupted Sunday night in Najaf's twin city Kufa, and Shiite militiamen accused the Americans of firing near the main mosque, damaging its outer wall.

In a report from Kufa, CNN, which has a reporter embedded with 1st Armored Division troops there, said a "major firefight" broke out late Sunday when soldiers tried to secure a police station. CNN quoted soldiers as saying it was the most intense fighting in the area in the past six weeks.

The attack in Baghdad's Shoala district occurred near dusk as three sport utility vehicles headed south toward the city center. Gunmen in an approaching vehicle opened fire, sending three of the four SUVs swerving off the road into barricades.

Crowds of Iraqi youths danced and cheered as rescuers dragged a bloodied body, wearing a flak vest, from the driver's seat of one vehicle. Others looted tires and set two vehicles on fire.

Two witnesses, Khalid Zaalan, 22, and Qays Hussein, 15, said there was a shootout, and armed Western men jumped from the wrecked SUVs, commandeered a passing car at gunpoint and escaped.

- Associated Press


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