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Bounty for Saddam, dead or alive: $25m

Baghdad, July 3 (Reuters): The US today offered $25 million for information leading to the capture of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein or confirmation of his death.

Paul Bremer, US administrator for Iraq, announced the reward in a statement, saying that Saddam and his sons Uday and Qusay were “among the most evil men the world has known”.

“I am today announcing a $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of Saddam Hussein, and a $15 million reward for information leading to the capture of either of his two sons,” Bremer said.

Three months after a US-led war on Iraq toppled the man who ruled Iraq for a quarter of a century, there is still no sign of him or his sons.

“They may or may not be alive. But I recognise that, until we know for sure, their names will continue to cast a shadow of fear over this country,” Bremer said, inviting people to come forward with information.

A US spokesperson said the reward also applied to information confirming that Saddam was dead.

Resistance fighters wounded 10 US soldiers today, the latest in a spate of attacks. Two Iraqis were killed and 12 were wounded. US officials blame former intelligence officers and Iraqi army elements loyal to Saddam for the resistance.

At least 25 US and six British troops have been killed by hostile fire since President George W. Bush declared major combat in Iraq to be over on May 1. The US death toll rose to 25 today when the US army said two missing soldiers later found dead were killed in action.

Hit-and-run attacks, which typically involve grenades launched at US convoys, have grown more frequent in recent weeks, but Bush said the roughly 150,000 troops in Iraq were adequately prepared.

While many Iraqis are pleased Saddam has gone, they clamour for their own government and some openly resent the occupation. The country remains awash with guns despite a mid-June deadline set by US forces for arms to be surrendered.

A US military intelligence officer said there was “organised resistance” in the anti-US hotbed of Falluja, where residents believe a US airstrike damaged a mosque on Monday killing nine people.

The Americans say they had nothing to do with the blast.

The senior intelligence officer in Falluja today said he had no evidence to confirm a US military statement blaming the blast on bomb makers.

“There are some who feel like conditions are such that they can attack us there,” Bush told reporters at the White House yesterday. “My answer is: bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation...We’re not going to get nervous.”

Democrats in Washington criticised the Republican Bush for issuing what they called an invitation to fire on US troops.

Hours after Bush spoke, assailants in broad daylight in central Baghdad wounded at least three US soldiers when they fired a rocket-propelled grenade on a US vehicle.

One Iraqi passer-by was killed and 11 were wounded, hospital sources said.

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