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Nic Robertson: Inside Saddam's hideout

kitchen
One of the two rooms was used as a kitchen.

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SPECIAL REPORT

TIKRIT, Iraq (CNN) -- The raid on Saddam's hideout was aided by a moonless night and a power outage that plunged the entire area in darkness.

Soldiers equipped with night vision goggles found their target hiding in a tiny concrete hole about six feet underground.

At six feet long, two feet across and three feet high, the hole was barely big enough for Saddam to lie in.

Soldiers who participated in the raid showed CNN's Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson the two-room hovel where Saddam had been living.

The rooms were small and disorganized, showing clear signs of a beleaguered existence.

"The place looks a mess, not the sort of place you would expect to see a former president living in," Robertson said.

"There's a kitchen here, a sink over here, medicine, Mars bars, a flash light, a cup, rotting bananas. There are tins of Spam in the cupboard."

The other room held two beds, some books and clothes, a heater and a refrigerator.

"The bed is crumpled, and there is a fresh clean pair of boxer shorts, unused and still new," Robertson said.

"There is another bed, a box full of clothing, a few books on the book case. Here are pictures, brand new framed, but nothing in the frames, no pictures.

"Down here a pair of shoes, unused, some water, track suit bottoms.

"It's just chaos, not the sort of conditions you would expect the former Iraqi leader to be living in."

hole
The small hole where Saddam was found.

Outside the rooms, the soldiers searched a miniature courtyard.

Pulling back a rug they found an eight-inch thick piece of Styrofoam with rope handles "plugging" a hole.

Robertson said: "The hole is really small inside. It is concrete and mud on the walls, with a wood lintel and wood around the top of the frame.

"It would not have been very easy to get in and out of.

"Saddam came with his hands up. He said: 'I am Saddam Hussein, I am the president of Iraq, and I want to negotiate,' to which the troops, we are told responded: 'President Bush sends his regards.'

"After that, Saddam was whisked out of the hole, pulled up and taken to a helicopter waiting in the field just across here."


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