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Saddam’s wounded son appears on Iraqi television, says ‘I’m fine’

December 17, 1996

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Saddam Hussein’s son Odai appeared on Iraqi television Tuesday for the first time since surviving an assassination attempt last week and said he was recovering from his wounds.

``I’m fine,″ Odai Hussein told the Al-Shabab Television station, which he owns. ``I’m recovering.″

Odai implied neighboring Iran was behind the assassination attempt Thursday.

``It is known who are the treacherous,″ he said, later making a reference to the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war that killed thousands of soldiers on both sides.

The footage apparently was shot Tuesday during a visit by a Qatari envoy.

It showed Odai Hussein in what appeared to be a hospital room, draped with a sheet from his upper chest to his feet. The footage, also broadcast on Jordan television, showed no sign of injury to his face or neck _ places where Iraqi opposition groups said he was wounded.

The footage was aired after sources in Jordan said that two French physicians had come to Baghdad to treat Odai _ prompting speculation that his condition was more serious than Iraqi authorities have maintained.

A government report after Thursday’s shooting said Odai was slightly injured. But Iraqi opposition sources maintained he was seriously wounded and had had several operations.

An Iraqi source said Tuesday that Odai’s life was not in danger, but he was bedridden and had undergone surgery several times. Like the sources in Amman, he spoke on condition of anonymity.

Opposition sources said the assailants fired machine guns and hurled grenades at Odai’s car, but there was no official confirmation of that account.

Security forces in Baghdad reportedly rounded up 120 people after the attack, but it was unclear how many remained detained.

Iraqi opposition sources in Amman claim that Saddam’s half brother, Watban al-Takriti, organized the attack out of revenge: Odai shot and injured Watban during a family quarrel last year.

Two groups seeking to overthrow Saddam’s government reportedly have claimed responsibility for attacking Odai: the opposition group Al-Dawa and the Mohammed Madhlum al-Dulaimi Group, named after an Iraqi air force general executed for plotting against Saddam.

In Baghdad, the government has organized numerous public celebrations of Odai’s survival. Hundreds of sheep have been slaughtered in a traditional ritual of thanksgiving, with the meat distributed to the poor.

Update hourly