• Kyodo

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The family members of two journalists feared killed in an attack in Iraq were waiting in Kuwait on Sunday to identify the bodies believed to be those of the two men, officials at the Japanese Embassy said.

Five family members of Shinsuke Hashida, 61, and his nephew Kotaro Ogawa, 33, arrived in Kuwait late Saturday.

The two freelance journalists and their driver and interpreter, both Iraqis, were fired at Thursday when they were driving through Mahmudiyah, about 30 km south of Baghdad. All but the driver are feared dead.

The Foreign Ministry announced Sunday in Tokyo it has almost confirmed that one of the bodies is that of Ogawa, while it has decided to have DNA tests performed on the other body in Baghdad.

A doctor at the Japanese Embassy in Turkey who was dispatched to the Iraqi capital could not fully conclude it was Hashida’s body because it was so badly charred, the ministry said.

Hashida is believed to have been trapped inside their car when it burst into flames following the attack, while Ogawa’s body was found about 10 km west of the attack site. Government sources said earlier that Ogawa was apparently shot to death by the assailants after he escaped from the vehicle before it exploded.

Officials were making arrangements to have the body believed to be Ogawa’s airlifted from Baghdad to Kuwait on a U.S. military plane later Sunday.

A forensic dentist and Foreign Ministry staff accompanied them from Japan to Kuwait via Bangkok.

While in transit in the Thai capital, they obtained Hashida’s dental records, including X-rays, to be used for identification purposes, Japanese officials said. Hashida’s residence is in Bangkok.

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