Hussein said Iraqis were "very close to victory" in their battle to oust occupation troops.

"Returning to covert attacks is the appropriate means for resistance," said the former Iraqi President, whose whereabouts remain a mystery since Baghdad was occupied on 9 April.

The tape also appeared earlier on Lebanon's al-Hayat-Lebanese Broadcasting Corportation (LBC) satellite station.

This was the second audiotape of Hussein Aljazeera has broadcast in less than a week.

Resistance continues

Meanwhile, attacks against occupation troops continued unabated. Seven US soldiers were wounded in three separate blasts in Iraq on Tuesday.

In the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, three US soldiers were injured when their patrol came under rocket-propelled grenade attack.

The attack was among the first reported in the mainly Kurdish area, where residents are perceived to have supported the US-led occupation.

An anti-tank mine exploded under a Bradley vehicle travelling in a convoy in the town of Khan Dhari, 30 km west of Baghdad, wounding its driver.

Earlier, two US soldiers were slightly wounded when an explosion damaged their Humvee vehicle on the outskirts of the capital, a US military official said.

Overnight, a US military base near the town of Balad, 90 km north of the capital, came under mortar attack shortly before midnight for the second time in less than a week.

A US spokeswoman said there were no American casualties in the incident, but 12 Iraqis had been detained. A similar attack last week wounded 16 occupation soldiers.

British soldier shot

British troops in Basra are no
longer welcome 

Britain’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that a British soldier was shot and wounded in a sniper attack in the southern city of Basra.

The soldier was described as being in stable condition.

As the country continues to be plagued by chaos, Iraqi parties which had opposed Hussein called for occupation troops to withdraw from all cities and be replaced by an Iraqi paramilitary force.

A spokesman from the Pentagon-backed Iraqi National Congress said that such a force would restore law and order and end what he described as "terrorist attacks" against occupation troops.

Shias critical

Iraq's top Shia religious authority, the Hawza, said the occupying adminstration was dragging its feet in rebuidling the country.

"The coalition has failed to deliver on its promises to rebuild Iraq three months after extending its control over the country under the pretext that security has not been established everywhere," said the Hawza in a statement.

The religious authority, based in the southern holy city of Najaf, said it was "surprising" that forces had not yet restored infrastructure in southern cities which were "neglected under the toppled regime".