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Search goes on for Saddam remains

U.S. soldiers search for guns in Baghdad.
U.S. soldiers search for guns in Baghdad.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Soldiers are searching for proof that Saddam Hussein died in the rubble of a building targeted by U.S. bombers, a U.S. general said Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, coalition ground commander and head of the 3rd U.S. Army, said letting the Iraqi people know for certain that Saddam is dead is an important part of reducing the Iraqi people's "fear factor."

"It's important to prove Saddam Hussein is dead, not just gone," he said.

McKiernan spoke at a 45-minute joint news conference with Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who is senior adviser to Iraq's Ministry of Interior.

The topics covered were as diverse as attacks on U.S. troops to allegations in Britain that before the war the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair overstated Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

McKiernan said the attacks on U.S. troops were not "linked to any centralized, countrywide command and control."

Instead, he said, disfranchised Baath party members forced from the major cities were behind the strikes.

"I don't see this necessarily as a resurgence," he said. "I see it as the completion of the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime."

Seven U.S. soldiers were injured overnight in separate attacks in Iraq, U.S. military officials said.

Three soldiers were injured in Bayji and four in the Baghdad area. All of the attacks occurred during security patrols or when convoys were moving through the area. None of the injuries required medical evacuation.

Five U.S. soldiers were killed in attacks last week and a U.S. military officials said they are deploying 4,000 soldiers to the Fallujah area, which continues to be a stronghold of Iraqi resistance and the scene of some of the assaults.

McKiernan was asked what he called the "question of the week" -- whether the United States and Britain overstated Iraq's program to develop weapons of mass destruction. He said they did not.

"We thought there was a threat of not only the presence but the potential use of weapons of mass destruction and we planned accordingly," he said.

"Following up on all the leads will take some time. I know that we got the No. 1 weapon of mass destruction in Iraq. That was Saddam Hussein."

Kerik said crime in Baghdad has dropped as the number of patrols has reached 807, almost double the number on May 16.

To go with their new uniforms, Iraqi police would receive two-way radios in a few weeks, he said and their first paychecks by Saturday. By the end of June, 4,000 military police would be in place in Iraq, McKiernan said.

A coalition-imposed weapons ban takes effect June 15.

So far, Iraqis have turned in more than 300 weapons, including pistols, automatic rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, McKiernan said.

Anyone found with an unauthorized weapon after June 14 will be fined and face jail time, he said.

Citizens can keep a small gun to defend their home or place of business, and the overall ban eventually would change, he said.

"We're in the initial phase of trying to control weapons in Iraq," he said.


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