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One picture, one story as falling statue fills front pages

LONDON - There was only one story on the front page of Britain's newspapers this morning as the national press caught up with the dramatic images broadcast yesterday afternoon of the tumbling statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.

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All the tabloids gave over their entire front page to the fall of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad's main square, where crowds of Iraqis gathered in scenes of jubilation as US tanks rolled into the heart of the city.

The pulling down of the statute brought local Iraqis together with US troops. Initially, American soldiers stayed back as a group of men scaled the statue of the Iraqi of the leader and put a noose around his neck.

It was only after this that US troops joined in the effort, using an armoured personnel carrier.

The BBC's Rageh Omaar, covering the event from the square, told viewers at home exactly what everyone had probably already realised: "This is an historic moment and it took place in front of ordinary Iraqi people, US marines and the gathered media of the world."

Both The Sun and The Daily Mirror matched each other with their "Statue of Liberty" headlines although, while the Sun showed the statue falling, the Daily Mirror used the picture that raised the hackles of anti-American feeling -- a shot of a US marine covering Saddam's face with the stars and stripes.

The US flag was quickly replaced by the old Iraqi flag as crowds cheered on. This flag too was also taken away after a short while. The anti-war Daily Mirror tempered its "Statue of Liberty" headline with a smaller message underlined in red, reading: "But now America must give Iraq REAL freedom".

Downmarket, the Star gave its own take on the news, running the picture of the falling Saddam as an insert picture alongside a full front-page shot of a blonde model in a Union Jack bikini, holding a Union Jack flag with the headline "We've won the war". The Daily Star had obviously skipped the news brief of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who gave a cautious reaction to the news and warned that it was not over yet.

It almost appeared to be a case of rival newspaper camps matching each other headline for headline because, like rivals the Sun and the Mirror, the Daily Mail and Daily Express also published with the same headline: "Toppled".

The Daily Mail, however, finished with the best looking page of the two because it had given over its front cover in its entirety while the Express flagged its budget coverage at the bottom of the page. In a message aimed squarely at Mail readers, it warned "How sly Brown can now take 75% off you in taxes".

Of the broadsheets, only The Independent devoted its entire front page to the falling Saddam image. The Times had a shot of a US marine looking over his shoulder as it fell and the headline "Victory in the 21 day war". The Times, under its main image, also carried the shot of the US marine covering Saddam's face with the US flag.

The Daily Telegraph went with "The toppling of Saddam" and The Guardian had a two-line "The toppling of Saddam - an end to 30 years of brutal rule" and the same picture of the marine looking back in awe as the Times.

Of the broadsheets, only the Financial Times used the image of the US marine covering Saddam's face alongside the headline "World watches as Saddam topples into Baghdad dust".

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