Intelligence officials believe Saddam Hussein may have been injured or even killed in the cruise missile attack on one of his compounds, it was reported today.

They believe the Iraqi president was still inside a bunker in his Baghdad compound when it was hit in an attack by 36 cruise missiles in the early hours of yesterday.

One or both of Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay were also in the building and may have been hit, they said.

It was still unknown whether they survived or were injured.

A senior US official told the Washington Post: "The preponderance of the evidence is he was there when the building blew up. He didn't get out."

Military sources at Central Command in Qatar said they still had "no idea" whether Saddam himself was dead, alive or injured.

Group Captain Al Lockwood, spokesman for British forces, said: "We have no idea. That's something we will be very interested to find out.

"If he is, we would hope somebody realises that the easiest way to stop this would be then to give up the weapons of mass destruction and talk to us about how we are going to bring Iraq back into the civilised world."

Doctors were reportedly brought to the Baghdad compound after the strike, heightening speculation that Saddam or one of his sons was injured.

The US Government has also reportedly consulted a woman who claims to have been Saddam's mistress, asking her to look at video footage of him broadcast after the attack to establish whether a double was used.

Parisoula Lampsos, who has reportedly been able to separate him from doubles in the past, said it was not Saddam who made the televised address.

Experts using voice recognition and facial triangulation techniques believe the man in the post-strike broadcast probably was Saddam Hussein but US and UK officials believe the broadcast may have been pre-recorded.

Saddam Hussein has proven in the past an almost impossible target for any personal attack.

When Labour backbencher George Galloway met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad last year, he disclosed that the West's bete noire was living almost completely underground in a system of bunkers.

"We were so deeply underground, my ears were popping," he said.

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