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Italy mourns hostage slain by captors

ROME -- Recalling the horror the nation felt when its first hostage was killed in Iraq, word that a second Italian hostage was slain brought condemnation from the pope yesterday and fueled debate over Italy's role in the war-torn country.

At the Olympics in Athens, Italian soccer players wore black armbands during their bronze medal match against Iraq in honor of Enzo Baldoni, a 56-year-old freelance journalist. The Italian polo team wore armbands, and volleyball players wore a piece of black tape over their hearts during their match with Russia.

Late Thursday, the Qatar-based Arabic television network Al-Jazeera reported it had received a video that appeared to show the killing of Baldoni, two days after an Islamic militant group demanded that Italy's troops leave Iraq.

"Enzo is no longer here, and nobody can give him back to us," Baldoni's wife, Giusy Bonsignore, said in a statement given to Italian television. "Enzo lived life with a smile; we'll keep doing so for him."

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reaffirmed his commitment to keeping Italian troops in Iraq, vowing "to combat terrorism wherever and in whatever form it manifests itself."

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