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  Tuesday, October 11, 2005  
  EPIC Dispatch 

Iraqi Working for NYT Found Shot Dead in Basra

Another Journalist Killed in Basra

September 19, 2005

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - An Iraqi working as a reporter for the New York Times was found dead in the southern city of Basra on Monday after being kidnapped by masked men, family members and a doctor said.

Fakher Haider, who had worked for the Times for 2-1/2 years, was found with his hands bound and a single bullet wound to the head, a doctor in the forensic department of Basra's hospital told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Employees of the New York Times in Baghdad said they couldn't confirm Haider's death but said they were enquiring into reports that he had been kidnapped and killed.

Haider's brother told Reuters in Basra that four masked men in a dark Toyota vehicle had arrived at the family home in an apartment complex in central Basra after midnight on Sunday.

They said they were from the intelligence services and that they needed to speak to Haider in connection with an investigation, the brother said. They bundled him into their vehicle and told his wife and family not to interfere.

The reporter's body was found several hours later in a deserted area on the outskirts of the city.

Haider is the second journalist to be kidnapped and killed in Basra in the past two months.

Steven Vincent, an American freelance reporter who was writing a book about the city and who had written an opinion piece for the New York Times criticizing the Basra security forces, was kidnapped and found shot dead in August.

His female translator was abducted with him and also shot several times but survived and is recovering in hospital.

Iraqi reporters in Basra, a predominantly Shi'ite city, say local security forces are increasingly under the control of militias loyal to two competing Shi'ite political groups.

The dominant force is the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a pro-Iranian political party that is influential in the government and has a large militia known as the Badr Organization or Badr Brigade.

It competes with the Mehdi Army, a nationalist militia loyal to young Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose followers also have a strong presence in the police force in Basra, Iraq's second largest, and have clashed recently with Badr followers.

Copyright © 2005 The New York Times

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