A US freelance reporter, Steven Vincent, has been shot dead by unknown gunmen in Basra, southern Iraq, police have said.
Vincent reported that Shia militants had infiltrated Basra police
Mr Vincent was abducted with his female Iraqi translator at gun point by men in a police car on Tuesday.
His bullet-riddled body was found on the side of a highway south of the city a few hours later.
He had been writing a book about the city, where insurgents have recently stepped up their attacks.
Bundled into car
The pair were kidnapped by five gunmen in a police car as they left a currency exchange shop, Lt Col Karim al-Zaidi said.
"Both were later shot, but Vincent was killed, while the girl [translator] is alive," said Mr Zaidi.
Mr Vincent was shot several times in the head and body, said Mr Zaidi. The translator, Nour Weidi, was seriously wounded.
Mr Vincent's relatives have been informed and US officials are working with the UK military and Iraqi authorities to identify the killers.
"I can confirm to you that officials in Basra have recovered the body of journalist Steven Vincent," said embassy spokesman Pete Mitchell. "Our condolences go out to the family."
Mr Vincent had been in Basra in recent months working for the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times.
In a recent New York Times article, Mr Vincent wrote that Basra's police force had been infiltrated by Shia militants.
He quoted a senior Iraqi police lieutenant saying some officers were behind many of the killings of former Baath party members in Basra.
Mr Vincent also criticised the UK forces, who are responsible for security in Basra, for ignoring abuses of power by Shia extremists.