BAGHDAD, Iraq – An Iraqi journalist working for The New York Times was killed after men claiming to be police officers abducted him from his home in the southern city of Basra (search), the newspaper announced Monday.
Fakher Haider (search), a 38-year-old reporter covering Basra, was found dead in a deserted area on the city's outskirts Monday morning after his abduction late Sunday night.
Relatives identified the body at the city morgue and said he appeared to have been shot more than once in the head. His back was bruised, suggesting he had been beaten, the Times said.
Haider, who had worked for the Times since the spring of 2003, also reported for other news organizations including Merbad TV, a local Basra station, as well as National Geographic and The Guardian, a London-based newspaper.
But his identification card listed him as a Times employee.
"This murder of a respected colleague leaves us angry and horrified," Bill Keller, the newspaper's executive editor, said in a statement. "Fahker was an invaluable part of our coverage for more than two years. His depth of knowledge, his devotion to the story and his integrity were much admired by the reporters who worked with him."
Haider is survived by a wife, Isra, and three children, ages 5, 7 and 9.
According to Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (search), he is the 68th journalist killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003 and the 19th this year.
He is also the second journalist affiliated with the Times killed in Basra over the past two months. On Aug. 2, New York freelance journalist Steven Vincent (search) and his female Iraqi translator were abducted at gunpoint. His body was discovered that night on the side of the highway south of Basra. The translator, Nour Weidi, was seriously wounded.
That killing came shortly after Vincent wrote a column published in the Times accusing Basra police of being infiltrated by Shiite militiamen.
But a senior British official said Islamic militants — and not Iraqi police — probably killed Vincent. British forces in Iraq are based in Basra and responsible for the city's security.