Uday and Qusay and his 14-year-old son Mustafa were wrapped in Iraqi flags and buried in the cemetery of Awja, a village on the edge of Tikrit, after arriving from Baghdad in an ambulance.

There was a heavy US army presence and journalists were prevented from photographing or filming the burial.

Around 40 tribesmen gathered in the village digging graves in the
sun-baked earth.  Mahmud al-Nada, an elder of the Beijat tribal group that includes Saddam's family, led the mourners in prayer at the graveside as wind whipped clouds of dust into the air.

Some locals in Tikrit said they regarded the dead as martyrs. "They are the heroes of Iraq," one said.

The three had been held in refrigeration at a US airbase at Baghdad International Airport since they were killed in a gun battle on 22 July in Mosul, northern Iraq.

They were prepared for burial according to Christian, not Muslim traditions.

Uday's and Qusay's faces were restored by military morticians and their beards shaved as US authorities sought to persuade a sceptical Iraqi population that they had indeed been killed.

Still, the handling of the corpses caused controversy across the country.

Muslim tradition calls for burial as soon as possible after death.

Swoop

Yesterday, US soldiers swept through a house in Tikrit, arresting a man suspected of organising guerrilla attacks in the local area.

The soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division of the 1st Brigade were backed by helicopters and met no resistance as they took the unidentified man into custody.
 
“The individual that we were targeting tonight we believe is involved in organising attacks on US forces, in moving arms for these attacks, and also providing security for members of the regime,” Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell told Reuters.
 
The US says Saddam loyalists and some foreign fighters are behind a guerrilla campaign that has killed 52 US troops since President George Bush declared major combat over on 1 May.

Though the former dictator has yet to be detained, despite a $25 million bounty, Colonel James Hickey, commander of the 1st Brigade, told Reuters that it was "absolutely possible" Saddam was hiding around Tikrit.

“If he is here, we will get him,” he said. “I am prepared to kill or capture any high-ranking member of the regime.” 

RPG attack on convoy

In a separate incident, Aljazeera reported Saturday morning that two US armoured vehicles were burning in the town of Balad Rooz, southeast of Ba’quba city in the Diyala province.

The US patrol came under RPG attack, which killed one soldier and injured three, according to eyewitness accounts. US soldiers returned fire killing two Iraqis.

Another US soldier was killed and three were wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on their convoy east of Baghdad, the US military said.

 

With these two deaths, the toll of US soldiers goes up to 54 since 1 May when Washington declared "major combat operations over" in Iraq.

In Mosul, unidentified assailants shot dead Sha'lan Al Faisal Al Jarba, head of the Iraqi Constitution Movement and a leader of the Shammar tribe.

The attackers opened fire on Al Jarba's car, killing both him and a bodyguard, Aljazeera reported.