Iraq's 79-day wonder

BAGHDAD (Reuter) - Engineers and builders working round the clock have rebuilt President Saddam Hussein's main palace in 79 days, official newspapers said on yesterday.

Mahmoud Diyab al-Ahmed, the Housing Minister, said repairs to the palace, badly damaged by Gulf war bombing, were completed on Wednesday 'in an extraordinary period not exceeding 79 days'. Known as 'The Home of the People', the Baghdad palace stands in sprawling grounds on the southern bank of the Tigris River.

'The reconstruction of the Home of the People is a loud reply to rancorous and malevolent enemies,' the army newspaper al-Qadissiyah said on its front page.

President Saddam launched a big reconstruction campaign after his defeat to restore power and water supplies and repair the country's telecommunications links and oil industry.

WASHINGTON - President George Bush said yesterday that Baghdad had ended air attacks against the Shia population in southern Iraq since the start of a no-fly zone by the United States, Britain and France, AFP reports.

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