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Saddam Hussein's Pistol on Sale at Iraqi Black Market for $500

Saddam Hussein's pistol incrusted with gold is on sale at one of Iraq's illegal markets for $500.

According to a RIA Novosti correspondent, the browning's hilt bears a remembrance inscription saying "To our favourite and highly pious leader Saddam Hussein on his birthday from sheikh Homeidi".

The seller asserts that he bought the pistol for less than $200 and now he is going to sell it in order to provide for his living.

After Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed, weapons markets in Iraq have become numerous. One of the biggest markets is located 120 kilometres south of Baghdad, on the road leading to the holy town of Shiites, An-Najaf, not far from the Iraqi town of El-Kifl. There one can buy almost everything - from a flare pistol to a 4-barrelled antiaircraft machine-gun.

The RIA Novosti correspondent who visited the market in El-Kifl has stated that the trade there is quite open and weapons are being sold by people of almost all ages, from 10-year-old children to elderly Iraqis. Female sellers are also quite frequent here.

According to the sellers, Kalashnikov assault rifles produced in Russia, the Czech republic, Iraq and China are in great and stable demand. Their average price amounts to $50 /100,000 Iraqi dinars/.

There is also plenty of ammunition on the market. One cartridge costs 50 dinars or 2.5 cents. However, most customers buy boxes of cartridges.

"Possession of weapons is one of our nation's traditions, one of the signs of a tribe's power," sheikh Hamdan says. "When members of one tribe pay a visit to another tribe, they greet it with arms fire. The hosts salute their guests in the same way. It is our custom and we cannot ignore it." According to experts, uncontrolled trade of weapons threatens to turn the country into a "big armed gang band."