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One of two journalists abducted in Baghdad found dead; US army raids offices of Shi'ite daily "al-Da'wa"

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the 20 May 2007 murder in Baghdad of Ali Khalil, of the daily "al-Zaman" ("Time"), and the kidnapping on 9 May of the journalist Salam Duhi al-Sudani.

"Less than three days after the death of two journalists working for the US television network ABC, the profession is once again in mourning for this murder," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"Iraqi journalists take incalculable risks to continue doing their jobs. The press is being targeted because it now plays a very significant role in the country's reconstruction. Without these brave professionals, Iraq would become a news black hole," it added.

Ali Khalil, 22, was abducted on 20 May in the al-Bayaa district in the south of the capital. He and his wife had just left the home of a family member when armed men in two vehicles blocked their route. They bundled the journalist into one vehicle, leaving his wife on the roadside.

Many of his colleagues rushed to the neighbourhood to search for him. Police found his body one hour later, the head and back riddled with bullets. According to information obtained by the organisation, he was probably targeted for writing an article about armed groups, in which he quoted members of parliament calling on the authorities to physically eliminate members of these groups.

Elsewhere, there has been no news of Salam Duhi al-Sudani, a journalist in his 50s, who once worked as a sub-editor for "Babel", owned by Uday Hussein, son of the former Iraqi president. More recently he worked for the daily "al-Zaoura", which folded for financial reasons. He went missing on 9 May in the al-Latifiya district, known along with the districts of al-Iskandaria and al-Mohammadiya south of Baghdad, as the "Triangle of Death".

At least 177 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003. Two are missing and 13 are currently being held hostage.

In an unrelated incident, the US army carried out a raid on 18 May for the second time since the start of the year, at the offices of the daily "al-Da'wa", organ of the Shiite party al-Da'wa al-Islamiya. US soldiers seized a number of files during their search which lasted more than three hours, Ali Al-Khayat, a journalist at the paper said.

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