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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 December, 2003, 16:20 GMT
Kuwaitis respond with sober joy
Chris Hogg
By Chris Hogg
BBC correspondent in Kuwait City

Kuwaiti soldiers defending the capital from the advancing Iraqi army
Kuwaitis have not forgotten Iraq's attempt to invade them
The Kuwaiti Government has described the capture of Saddam Hussein as a turning point and an opportunity for Iraqis to unite.

On the streets of Kuwait City many people expressed quiet satisfaction that the former dictator who ruled Iraq for 24 years had finally been captured.

Kuwait's information minister, Mohammed Abulhassan, said this was the minute the whole world had been waiting for.

"Thank God," he said, "that Saddam Hussein had been captured alive.

Jubilance

"Now he could be tried for the heinous crimes he committed against the Iraqi and the Kuwaiti peoples.

"It was the end of a rule of tyranny."

Kuwait suffered terribly when Saddam Hussein's forces poured over the border and occupied the country more than a decade ago.

No surprise then that his capture was welcomed by many ordinary Kuwaitis.

As the news began to spread, there was little evidence of public celebrations - no horns blaring or flag waving, simply quiet satisfaction that the dictator was a threat to them no more.

"I am very happy because Saddam is a bad man and all the world is now safe," one Kuwaiti told me.

"I hope he will be held at an international court, whatever he did, why he did it and for what."

Another Kuwaiti said: "Iraq before was like a big jail.

"Now they will feel the freedom. It needs time, but soon they will feel the freedom."

Remembering dead

The reality is though that for many here the celebrations are tempered by the losses they suffered at the hands of the Iraqi army.

Hundreds of Kuwaitis went missing after the first Gulf War.

Most are feared dead. A number of bodies have been found already.

What they will want to know from Saddam Hussein is what happened to their fathers, their brothers and their sons.


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