2007: a deadly year for journalists

This has been the deadliest year for journalists for more than a decade.

So far 64 journalists have died in the line of duty, nearly half in Iraq, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. It is eight more than last year.

The death toll was higher only in 1994 when 96 died. The committee says the death toll for 2007 might go higher. Twenty other deaths are being investigated to see if they were work-related.

The deadliest place to work was Iraq where 31 journalists died. The next most dangerous country was Somalia where seven journalists were killed.

In Iraq there were also 12 deaths among ‘support’staff such as drivers and bodyguards. Since the war began in March 2003 a total of l24 journalists and 49 ‘media workers’have been killed.

In all, 24 journalists in Iraq were murdered and seven died in what is called crossfire. One of the reasons for the rising death toll in Iraq is that many news organisations are now using freelances to cover the news – many of whom have limited experience of working in war zones.

‘Working in Iraq remains one of the most dangerous places in the planet’said the director of the committee, Joel Simon. He added: ‘Members of the press are being hunted down and murdered with alarming regularity. They are abducted at gunpoint. They are found dead later’

One of the dead listed was a Washington Post reporter, Salih Saif Aldin, aged 32, who died from a gunshot wound to the head while photographing fire damaged houses in a suburb of Baghdad.

At least nine of the killed were working for international news organizations such as the New York Times, ABC News, Reuters and Associated Press.

Estimates for the number of journalists killed doing their jobs in 2007 vary. Reporters Without Borders reports that 84 journalists and 20 media assistants have been killed doing their jobs so far this year.

In Africa the number of deaths increased from two in 2006 to ten this year. Border disputes and tribal conflicts account for many of the deaths. Eritrea is now rated the worst country for press freedom, replacing North Korea.

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