The body of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was moved from a family plot eight months ago by Sunni tribal allies fearing Shiite militias would harm it, a tribal leader said yesterday. Their caution paid off. A leader from Hussein's Albu Nasir tribe and a police official said Shiite militiamen - stationed near the gravesite in Hussein's birthplace of Awja, 150km from Baghdad - broke in, tore down photographs of Hussein and set the area on fire. They did not say when the assault took place. "We had moved the body eight months ago to a safer place. We were afraid something would happen to him. Our fears proved true," said the tribal leader who asked not to be named. "There were four of us that took up this mission. We could not move the bodies of Saddam's sons. We are afraid someone will desecrate those graves." The tribal chief would not give details on where Hussein's body was taken. "We moved him to a place far from the hands of his enemies," he said. "Isn't it enough for them that they killed him once. Now they are afraid of his body." Hussein was executed in 2006.