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Thursday, August 26, 2004

A Damn Shame

God rest his soul. Another casualty of war. With such beautiful, hopeful children.

The hostage takers who grabbed Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni on the road between Baghdad and Najaf in Iraq have killed him, the Italian government confirmed Thursday.

"We can confirm it was him, unfortunately," a spokesman for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said.

Arabic language television channel Al Jazeera said Baldoni's kidnappers killed him because Italy refused to heed their earlier deadline to withdraw troops from Iraq.[...]

[...]Berlusconi responded quickly with a statement reiterating his determination to keep Italian forces in the U.S.-led coalition and condemning Baldoni's killing.

"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," he said.

Italian newspapers said Baldoni and his driver-interpreter were caught in an ambush between Baghdad and Najaf, scene of a Shi'ite rebellion. His driver was found dead Saturday.

Tuesday, the Islamic Army in Iraq gave Italy 48 hours to withdraw its 2,700 troops from Iraq or Baldoni would be killed.

Italy, which has the third-largest foreign military contingent in the country, refused to bow to the kidnappers' demands.

As well as a reporter for the Milan-based weekly "Diario," Baldoni was volunteering for the Red Cross while in Iraq, his daughter, Gabriella Baldoni, told Italian television on Wednesday.

"He was trying to save human lives in Najaf by helping a Red Cross convoy in a spirit of solidarity which has always underscored his thinking and his actions," she told RAI television.

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