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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 21:00 GMT 22:00 UK
Saddam undergoes hernia operation
Saddam Hussein in court in July 2004
Saddam Hussein: Last seen in public in July
Ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has had an operation to treat a hernia at a Baghdad hospital, officials say.

The deposed president had the procedure under tight security two weeks ago, an Iraqi minister and US officials said.

The operation was carried out at Ibn Sina hospital, inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

The minister said the operation was a success and that Saddam Hussein - who was captured in December 2003 - was in "good health".

Iraq's interim Human Rights Minister, Bakhtiar Amin, confirmed that Saddam Hussein underwent the operation.

"The former president is in good health. He underwent a hernia operation at Ibn Sina hospital and it was successful," he told AFP news agency.

Heavily guarded

Under the previous Iraqi regime Ibn Sina hospital often treated elite members of the Baathist regime and the Iraqi elite.

The hospital now stands within the heavily fortified area of Baghdad that is home to the interim government and the US embassy compound.

A US official was quoted as describing the hernia procedure as a "standard procedure without complications".

"The problem has been relieved as a result of the surgery," he added.

Delegates from the Red Cross have been granted access to the former president, who has been held at a secret location in Iraq, believed to be a US military base, since his capture.

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