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Last Updated: Monday, 15 December, 2003, 16:21 GMT
Squalor of Saddam's secret refuge
The kitchen of Saddam Hussein's hideout
Eggshells littered the floor of Saddam Hussein's basic kitchen
The disarray and squalor of Saddam Hussein's secluded hideout was a far cry from the luxury life that he had enjoyed as absolute ruler of Iraq.

The walled compound in which US troops discovered the deposed leader's underground refuge looked more like a squatters' camp than an Arabian palace.

Reporters who were allowed to view the compound near the town of al-Dawr were struck by the wretched conditions in which Saddam Hussein spent his final days on the run.

The kitchen in the two-room hut where he lived had eggshells on the floor and dirty plates in the sink, not far from stale bread and leftover rice.

There was running water and a gas stove, but otherwise the amenities were fairly basic.

A small fridge contained chocolate bars, hot dogs and a can of lemonade. The other meagre supplies included a canister of coffee and some dried sausage.

Rubbish-strewn

The bedroom was a jumble of crumpled sheets and clothes, with a poster of Noah's Ark taking the place of the lavish artworks that normally decorated Saddam Hussein's residences.

There was no bathroom at all, but a ditch outside the hut had apparently been used as a latrine.

The yard was strewn with rubbish, including empty bottles, rotting fruit and a broken chair.

US troops believe that Saddam Hussein spent most of his time in the dilapidated hut, moving to the underground chamber only when coalition forces were in the area.

The subterranean hiding-place was just big enough for him to lie down. It was illuminated by an electric strip-light and supported by wooden beams.

The officer who led the raid, Colonel James Hickey, said: "What we found surprised us. We didn't think it would be so humble and simple."





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