At least 64 journalists were killed in 2007, making it the deadliest year in more than a decade with Iraq the most dangerous place in the world to report, a U.S. media watchdog said on Monday.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the number of deaths was up from 56 last year and that it was still investigating whether another 22 deaths in 2007 were work-related.
"CPJ has recorded only one year with a higher death toll: 1994, when 66 journalists were killed, many in conflicts in Algeria, Bosnia and Rwanda," the group said in a statement.
For the fifth year in a row Iraq was the deadliest dateline with 31 journalists killed, most of whom were targeted and murdered, the watchdog said. All but one of the journalists killed were Iraqi, with nine of those working for international organizations, including Reuters and The Associated Press.
Another 12 media support workers, such as bodyguards and drivers, also died in Iraq during 2007, the watchdog said.
"Since the beginning of the war in March 2003, 124 journalists and 49 media workers have been killed, making it the deadliest conflict for the press in recent history. More than one-third worked for international news organizations," the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
Somalia was ranked the second deadliest country, with seven journalists deaths in 2007. Sri Lanka and Pakistan each recorded five journalist deaths, and Afghanistan and Eritrea each had two deaths.
Myanmar, Haiti, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Turkey, United States and Zimbabwe each recorded one journalist death, the media watchdog said.
About seven in 10 of the deaths in 2007 were murders, while the rest were combat-related deaths and deaths in dangerous assignments.
There were positive developments, the group said: "There were no murders of journalists in Colombia this year for the first time in more than 15 years. For the first time since 1999, there were no work-related deaths of Philippine journalists."