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Hadi al-Mahdi, slain Iraqi journalist, had warned of threats

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Iraqi journalist killedThe prominent Iraqi journalist shot to death Thursday in his Baghdad home had recently warned supporters that he was the target of death threats, friends and associates said Friday.

Hadi al-Mahdi, a popular radio journalist who was vocal in his criticism of the government, had been using Facebook to publicize a protest against government corruption Friday in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.

Friends said that Mahdi had sent panicked e-mails to supporters in recent weeks saying that he feared for his life and that he believed that the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had assigned mercenaries to attack him on the street with knives.

Then, on Thursday, he came close to predicting his own demise.

“I have lived the last three days in a state of terror,” he wrote in a post on his Facebook page that morning. “There are some who call me and warn me of raids and arrests of protesters. There is someone saying that the government will do this and that. There is someone with a fake name coming on to Facebook to threaten me.”

But he remained undeterred: “I will take part in the demonstrations, for I am one of its supporters,” he wrote.

Friday, Maliki’s government had no comment on Mahdi’s death. But its opposition block in parliament, Iraqiya, demanded a full investigation. Iraqiya issued a statement condemning the crime as a “desperate attempt at muzzling and to bring Iraq back to the republic of repression, fear and despotism.”

Mahdi was shot around 1 p.m. Thursday in the kitchen of his house on Abu Nawas street, officials said. There was no sign of forced entry, and an individual said it appeared that Mahdi was serving water to his attacker.

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