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CBS News translator kidnapped, killed in Iraq

/ Source: The Associated Press

An Iraqi translator working for CBS News was found dead five days after he was abducted from his Baghdad home, the U.S. network announced Monday.

Anwar Abbas Lafta, who had worked for CBS for about 10 months, was seized Aug. 20 by eight to 10 armed men, some of whom wore body armor, the network said in a statement issued in New York. It said the attackers beat up the translator’s brother and shot his sister in the arm, and that the family later received two calls demanding ransom.

On Aug. 25, the family was notified by police that Abbas’ body had been found on the north side of Sadr City, the Shiite community on the eastern edge of the capital, the statement said.

Abbas was buried Monday in the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

CBS said Abbas was in his early 50s and was not married. He had worked as a translator for the U.S. military in Iraq for about three years before joining CBS News. A CBS spokeswoman said there was no indication that Abbas’ affiliation with CBS had anything to do with the kidnapping.

“Our deepest sympathies go to Mr. Abbas’ family and friends,” said Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports. “This is not the first time the CBS News family has suffered the worst loss possible — the life of a colleague. We certainly hope it is the last, but the pain and sorrow will be with us and his family for a very long time.”

Last year, CBS News cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman James Brolan were killed and correspondent Kimberly Dozier was seriously wounded when a car bomb exploded as they were working on a story about American troops in Iraq. A U.S. soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were killed in the same blast.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 112 journalists and 40 media support workers — translators, drivers, fixers and guards — have been killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003 — not counting Abbas. Most of the victims were Iraqis, and many of them were believed targeted because they worked for foreigners.

Five Associated Press employees have died violently in the Iraq war, including three killed since December.