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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Kidnappers Kill Italian Journalist

August 27, 2004|From Times Wire Services

BAGHDAD — Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni has been killed by militants who kidnapped him on the road between Baghdad and Najaf, the Italian government said Thursday.

Al Jazeera satellite TV channel said Baldoni's kidnappers killed him because Italy refused to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

The channel showed a video of Baldoni, 56, speaking to the camera, but no audio could be heard. The channel said it would not show footage of Baldoni's body, and it declined to say how he was killed.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi denounced the killing and reiterated his determination to continue Italy's participation in the U.S.-led coalition.

"There are no words for an act lacking any humanity and which at a stroke cancels out centuries of civilization and takes us back to the dark ages of barbarity," Berlusconi said.

The body of Baldoni's driver-interpreter was found Saturday, a day after the two went missing. Baldoni was on assignment for the newsmagazine Diario.

Four other Italians have been taken hostage in Iraq since April, when militants began kidnapping foreigners to pressure governments to withdraw their forces from the country and to persuade foreign companies supporting the troops and working on reconstruction to leave.

One of the Italian hostages, civilian security guard Fabrizio Quattrocchi, was killed, his shooting death videotaped. The three others were rescued by U.S. Special Forces troops.

Militants have kidnapped more than 100 foreigners in Iraq. About a dozen have been killed.

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