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Targeted Killing of Journalists Up in '09

This year has been one of the worst on record for the deliberate killing of reporters and media staff, an international journalists' association said Thursday.

A total of 137 journalists and media personnel were killed in 2009, according to the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists.

It said 113 were singled out because of their profession and 24 died accidentally.

The 113 "targeted killings" tally was one of the highest ever recorded, said the federation. It listed the Philippines, Mexico and Somalia as the most dangerous countries for journalists this year.

The total 2009 death toll of 137 compares with a federation tally of 109 and 175 in 2008 and 2007, respectively.

"Last year's drop in the murder rate of journalists has been short-lived," International Federation of Journalists President Jim Boumelha said in the statement.

"The devastating massacre of 31 journalists and media staff in the Philippines in November and fresh violence against colleagues in Mexico and Somalia have made this a year of terrible bloodshed for media."

The federation represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries. Its death tally covers all people employed by media organizations who died in the line of duty, including not only journalists but also interpreters and drivers.

Iraq - the most dangerous country for media workers during much of the past decade - saw five media deaths in 2009, down from 16 in 2008, according to the federation.

It said the "most shocking statistics" of 2009 point to the Philippines, where 38 journalists and media staff were killed in 2009 - most of them victims of a massacre in Maguindano province on Nov. 23.

The International Federation of Journalists said this "unprecedented attack and continued violence against media in other hot spots is a challenge to governments which in 2006 were told by the United Nations Security Council to take steps to protect journalists and media in conflict zones."

The federation listed these other countries with high numbers of media fatalities: Mexico (13), Somalia (9); Pakistan (7) and Russia (6).

The full federation report on 2009 media deaths will be published in mid-January.

In a separate report Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders said 76 journalists were killed this year - mostly when covering wars and elections - compared with 60 in 2008. The Paris-based organization counts journalists and bloggers, but not other media staff like interpreters.

A total of 573 journalists were arrested around the world, 33 were kidnapped, 1,456 were physically assaulted and 157 others fled their countries to escape such a fate, according to the Reporters Without Borders' count.

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