WASHINGTON — The Baghdad bunker that the United States said it bombed on the opening day of the Iraq war in a bid to kill Saddam Hussein never existed, a broadcast report said Wednesday.
"CBS Evening News" quoted a U.S. Army colonel in charge of inspecting key sites in Baghdad as saying no trace of a bunker or bodies was found at the site on the southern outskirts of the Iraqi capital.
"When we came out here, the primary thing they were looking for was an underground facility, or bodies, forensics, and basically what they saw was giant holes created. No underground facilities, no bodies," Col. Tim Madere said.
The network reported that the CIA searched the site once and that Madere searched it twice as part of efforts to find traces of DNA that could indicate if Hussein or his sons had been killed or wounded.
CBS said a palace of Hussein's remained standing amid the surrounding destruction. It quoted Madere as saying that anyone who had been in the building could have survived the raid.
Shortly after the attack, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters: "There's no question but that the strike on that leadership headquarters was successful. We have photographs of what took place. The question is, what was in there?"
The U.S. in effect acknowledged the March 20 raid failed to kill Hussein when it launched a second attack aimed at the Iraqi president April 7. His fate and those of sons Uday and Qusai remain unclear.
Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd