NEW YORK - Seventy journalists were killed worldwide while doing their jobs in 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent watchdog, reported Monday.
The figure was down from 74 in 2012. That year and 2009, which also saw 74 deaths, were the worst years since the organization began recording journalist deaths in 1992. But CPJ said it is investigating the deaths of 25 more journalists in 2013 to see if they are work-related.
Thirty-six percent of the journalists were killed in combat or cross fire, CPJ said, while “20 percent died during some other type of dangerous assignment.”
Two-thirds of those killed lost their lives in the Middle East.Pakistan, Somalia, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Mali, and Russia also saw multiple journalist deaths during the year, although the number of deaths in Pakistan and Somalia declined significantly, CPJ said. Mexico was notably absent from the list, with no deaths confirmed as work-related.
Five journalists were killed in Pakistan in 2013, the lowest number since eight died for their work in 2010, it said. While about half of the victims in Pakistan over the years have been singled out for murder, according to CPJ research, four of this year’s five deaths came in bomb blasts.
The fifth was murder: Ayub Khattak of Karak Times was shot to death outside his home in October after reporting on the local criminal drug trade. The Committee to Protect Journalists, founded in 1981 by U.S. foreign correspondents in response to threats from authoritarian governments, is funded by major news organizations and headquartered in New York.
The armed conflict in Syria, a rise in Iraqi violence and political struggles in Egypt accounted for the high number of journalists killed during the year, the annual analysis by CPJ said.
The civil war in Syria claimed the lives of at least 29 journalists in 2013, the organization said, bringing the number of journalists killed throughout the conflict to 63. That figure includes some who died over the border in Lebanon or Turkey.
Among the victims was Yara Abbas, “a correspondent for the pro-government TV channel al-Ikhbariya, who was killed when her crew’s vehicle came under rebel sniper fire in the city of al-Qusayr.”
Abdul Raheem Kour Hassan, director of broadcasting for opposition station Watan FM, was arrested in Syria in January. CPJ said Syrian officials told his family of his death in April, but did not give any details. The broadcast station said he was tortured to death at Palestine Branch, a feared Damascus prison operated by Syria’s Military Intelligence Security.
Syria also saw an unprecedented number of journalist kidnappings in 2013, CPJ said. About 60 journalists were abducted at least briefly during the year. Late in 2013, at least 30 were still missing. Most were believed held by rebel groups.