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Updated from 5:43 p.m. EST

Daniel Pearl,

The Wall Street Journal

reporter who was kidnapped in Pakistan last month, has been killed by his captors, according to U.S. government officials.

The U.S. State Department said it has evidence to confirm the death of the 38-year-old reporter. Pearl was kidnapped in Pakistan Jan. 23 while working on a story about possible links between militant Islamic groups and Richard Reid, the man now in custody for trying to ignite explosives stored in his shoes while aboard a trans-Atlantic flight.

"Our embassy in Pakistan has confirmed today that they have received evidence that

Wall Street Journal

reporter Daniel Pearl is dead," said Richard Boucher, a spokesman for the State Department. "The murder of Mr. Pearl is an outrage and we condemn it."

Until early Thursday Pearl's newspaper continued to express hope that he was alive, but late in the day, executives of the publication started relaying the grim news they had received from government representatives.

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"Danny was an outstanding colleague, a great reporter, and a dear friend of many at the


," a statement from Publisher Peter Kann and Managing Editor Paul Steiger said. "His murder is an act of barbarism that makes a mockery of everything Danny's kidnappers claimed to believe in. They claimed to be Pakistani nationalists, but their actions must surely bring shame to all true Pakistani patriots."

Earlier in the day, an Islamic militant held in the kidnapping told a judge that Pearl was kidnapped because he was "anti-Islam and a Jew," according to reports.

Reports out of Washington said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has agents working in Pakistan, received a copy of videotape showing Pearl dead.

Just days after the abduction, an e-mail sent to several news outlets included photographs of the journalist, including one in which one of the captors had a gun pointed at Pearl's head.

Shortly thereafter, another email was sent indicating that Pearl would be freed only if Pakistani nationals and other individuals being held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were released. The captives in Cuba are being detained as part of the American military's operation against terrorism in Afghanistan. One message asked for ransom money for Pearl's release.

The last known correspondence from the kidnappers came on Jan. 30. Pearl's wife is pregnant with the couple's first child, and she made repeated requests for her husband's release.

Last week, Omar Saeed Sheikh, the chief suspect in the abduction, told police investigators in Karachi that the reporter was alive. But the next day, he said that as far as he knew, Pearl was dead. At the time, authorities in Pakistan questioned Sheikh's credibility. The early reports of Pearl's death offered no details about when he might have been killed.