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Official: Militants likely killed U.S. journalist

| Thursday, Aug. 11, 2005

A New York freelance journalist killed earlier this month in southern Iraq probably was shot by Islamic militants, a senior British official said Wednesday.

The official said he doesn't believe Iraqi police were involved in Steven Vincent's death but acknowledged that the journalist's articles criticizing the local force had made him unpopular.

In a recent New York Times column and on his Internet blog, Vincent accused police in the southern city of Basra of being infiltrated by Shiite militiamen. British forces in Iraq are based in Basra and are responsible for the city's security.

The journalist and his female Iraqi translator were abducted at gunpoint Aug. 2. His body was discovered that night on the side of the highway south of Basra. The translator, Nour Weidi, was seriously wounded.

"It is almost certainly -- and this is a personal opinion -- a group of Islamists," the British official said.

The official yesterday briefed the media on condition of anonymity because British policy prohibits senior officials from being quoted by name.

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