Hurried funeral for Saddam's two sons

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The Independent Online

The sons of Saddam Hussein, Uday and Qusay, were buried with minimal ceremony yesterday in the village where their father was born, on the outskirts of Tikrit, 11 days after they perished in an ambush by US troops on their hideout in northern Iraq.

About 40 members of Saddam's tribe stood as the bodies were placed in twin graves dug in a dusty cemetery in Awja while US troops stood guard in the surrounding villages and open countryside.

The funeral became possible after US authorities, ignoring demands for a quick burial according to Muslim custom, finally agreed to release the bodies to the Iraqi Red Crescent. The Americans provoked the anger of many Muslims by holding on to the bodies at their base at Baghdad International Airport, touching them up with putty and allowing reporters to inspect and photograph them - all marks of disrespect towards Muslim tradition.

The Americans said the delay was prompted by concern that the brothers' burial site might become a rallying point for anti-US guerrilla fighters.

The 53rd soldier to die since the nominal end of the war was killed yesterday in an ambush east of Baghdad. There were unconfirmed reports of a 54th death.