NEW YORK (AP) Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter taken hostage a month ago by Islamic extremists in Pakistan, is dead, the State Department said yesterday.

Paul Wong

The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan received evidence yesterday that Pearl is dead, the State Department said. “We have informed Mr. Pearl”s family and expressed our sincere condolences.”

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher provided no details on the evidence. Two U.S. officials said, however, the FBI had obtained a videotape purportedly showing Pearl either dead or being killed, and is evaluating the tape”s authenticity. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Journal said it believed Pearl was dead.

“We now believe, based on reports from the U.S. State Department and police officials of the Pakistani province of Sind, that Danny Pearl was killed by his captors. We are heartbroken at his death,” the newspaper said in a statement.

Syed Kamal Shah, police chief of the province that includes Karachi, told The Associated Press by telephone that a videotape sent to the U.S. consulate in Karachi indicated that Pearl was dead.

Pearl was abducted in the port city of Karachi on Jan. 23 after arranging to interview the leader of a radical Muslim faction with purported ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network and terror suspect Richard Reid, arrested in December on a Paris-Miami flight he allegedly boarded with explosives in his shoes.

The Journal statement, signed by Publisher Peter Kann and Managing Editor Paul Steiger, called Pearl “an outstanding colleague, a great reporter, and a dear friend of many at the Journal.”

“His murder is an act of barbarism that makes a mockery of everything Danny”s kidnappers claimed to believe in,” it said. “They claimed to be Pakistani nationalists, but their actions must surely bring shame to all true Pakistani patriots.”

In a statement issued from their home in California, Pearl”s parents and two sisters said: “We”re shocked and saddened about the confirmation that our worst fears have been realized. Up until a few hours ago, we were confident that Danny would return safely, for we believe that no human being could be capable of harming such a gentle soul.”

The Journal said, “We will, in coming months, find ways, public and private, to celebrate the great work and good works Danny did. But today is a day to grieve.

“This loss is, of course, most painful for Danny”s family, in this country and elsewhere. We ask our colleagues in the press to respect their privacy, and to permit them to grieve undisturbed.”

The State Department condemned the killing.

“Both the United States and Pakistan are committed to identifying all the perpetrators of this crime and bringing them to justice,” Boucher said. “We will continue to work closely with Pakistani authorities, who had made every effort to locate and free Mr. Pearl.”

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