But reaction in the Iraqi city of Mosul, site of the gunfight, was divided. About 1,000 people shouted in delight or cursed the Americans outside the mansion of the tribal sheik Nawaf al-Zaydan Muhhamad, where Odai and Qusai had been holed up. Others stood silently and appeared in mourning.
"How can they do this?" a man in the crowd shouted Tuesday, apparently more concerned with the property damage. "What are the Americans doing destroying a house like this?"
Hours later, tracer fire, the rattle of AK-47s and explosions were heard in Baghdad. It was not clear if the shots were fired in anger or jubilation or a combination of both, reports CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts.
Earlier in the evening, U.S. soldiers on patrol said they thought the deaths of Saddam's two sons might signal the end of the kind of random violence that has killed so many Americans in the past several weeks.
"Well, it should mean that we shouldn't be here as long, because once they get the most wanted list captured they can set up a pretty good government and we can get out of here," said one GI.
In Dearborn, Mich., Qasim Al-Hashimi, 40, rejoiced at the Arabic news broadcasts in the Karbalaa Islamic Center on Tuesday. He showed deep scars around his wrists, which he said were the result of torture when he was imprisoned for opposing Saddam's regime.
"I, my children, were ecstatic about the news," he said.
But he said he would have preferred that the two be taken alive.
"Their crimes need to be exposed to the Iraqi people and to the Arab world," he said.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard called it "a huge step forward psychologically," while British Prime Minister Tony Blair hailed the killings as "a great day for the new Iraq."
"These particular two people were the head of the regime, which was not just a security threat because of its weapons program but was responsible for the torture and killing of thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqis," said Blair, who was in Hong Kong as part of his Asia tour.
Japan's top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, said the killings might help eliminate the pockets of resistance in Iraq and make it easier to provide reconstruction assistance.
"Hopefully, their removal will assist stability in Iraq, in the interests of facilitating self-determination by the Iraqi people," said New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters the Iraqi people should be assured that two "leaders of a brutal regime" are gone. President Bush is described as "pleased" with the news that the Hussein brothers are dead.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said "the Iraqi people are safer today. We will pursue the other members of his murderous regime wherever they might be hiding."
Both Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, ranked second only to their father in the deposed regime. U.S. forces were working on a tip from an Iraqi informant that the sons were in the house, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told reporters in Baghdad on Tuesday.
The United States had offered a $25 million reward for information leading to Saddam's capture and $15 million each for his sons, Nos. 2 and 3 on a list of 55 top former Iraqi officials wanted by the U.S. administration.