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Iraqi Group: Saddam's Son Shot in Slay Attempt

Opponents of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein shot and wounded his younger son in an assassination attempt in Baghdad two weeks ago, the Iraqi National Congress opposition group said Wednesday.

A spokesman for the London-based group said Saddam's 35-year-old son Qusai was shot in the arm as he drove in a convoy through the elite Mansour district of the Iraqi capital on Aug. 1.

"There was an assassination attempt by a group in Baghdad," said the spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He did not identify the group by name.

Saddam's older son, Odai, was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in December 1996. He was shot about 10 times while waiting in his car in an upscale district near Baghdad.

Entifad Quanar, an official at the Iraqi National Congress' Washington office, said Qusai was shot by two men riding in an Oldsmobile who managed to intercept his convoy.

He said the assailants escaped, but were later caught at a checkpoint in the city and shot and killed by Iraqi forces.

There was no independent confirmation of the shooting.

U.S. intelligence officials in Washington were skeptical of the report and said they had no information to verify the claim.

Qusai leads the elite Republican Guards and the Special Security Organization, the military unit entrusted with the protection of the president. Last year, he was elected to the ruling Baath party's leadership, significantly boosting his chances of succeeding his father.

Odai, who had to walk with the aid of a cane for a while after surviving the assassination attempt against him, had previously been considered the more likely successor.

Unlike his elder brother, Qusai keeps a low profile in public life, and it is said that most Iraqis would not recognize him.