U.S. administrators announced a $25 million reward Thursday for information leading to the capture of Saddam Hussein or confirmation of his death, an effort to resolve the fate of the ousted Iraqi leader and help end the violence blamed on his supporters.
Attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq persisted Thursday, with nine Americans wounded in an explosion and two ambushes in Baghdad. U.S. soldiers killed two Iraqis and wounded several others, including a 6-year-old boy, in the violence. Another Iraqi was killed in an explosion during an anti-U.S. demonstration outside the capital.
The reward for Saddam matches the $25 million that Washington is offering for its other top fugitive: Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader missing since U.S. forces helped dislodge the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
On top of the money for Saddam, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority also said it would pay $15 million for information on either of the former Iraqi president's two sons, Odai and Qusai.
Word of the reward is being spread in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world on the U.S. government-run station Radio Sawa. U.S. officials have said the continuing mystery over Saddam's fate is encouraging resistance against the U.S.-led occupation, as the daily ambushes and other attacks against Americans increase. At least 26 U.S. troops have been killed in hostile fire since major combat was officially declared over on May 1.
"We believe it is important to do everything we can to determine his whereabouts, whether he is alive or dead. in order to assist in stabilizing the situation and letting the people of Baghdad be absolutely sure that he's not coming back," Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters in Washington.
Saddam was last reportedly seen alive in the war's waning days in the Azamiyah neighborhood of northeastern Baghdad. At least two U.S. airstrikes targeted him during the war but it is not known if any were successful.
The United States is also offering unspecified rewards for information about wanted members of Saddam's regime and weapons of mass destruction. Officials have not said whether anyone has collected any of those rewards.
President Bush vowed Wednesday that anti-American attacks would not keep the United States from fulfilling its mission in Iraq.