World News

Pakistan deadliest nation for journalists, group says

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pakistan has become the most dangerous place in the world for journalists, with at least eight killed this year, while the number of news media deaths worldwide has dropped compared to last year, a press freedom group said on Wednesday.

At least 42 journalists have been killed globally so far in 2010, down from 72 in all of 2009, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Pakistan’s death toll of at least eight journalists doubles its total of four from 2009. Six of the eight deaths in Pakistan were due to suicide attacks or cross-fire during militant strikes, the group said.

“The deaths of at least eight journalists in Pakistan are a symptom of the pervasive violence that grips the country, much of it spilling over from neighboring Afghanistan,” Joel Simon, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

“With the rise in suicide attacks, the greatest risk is simply covering the news,” Simon added. “This is a deeply troubling and frankly untenable situation.”

Iraq was the second deadliest country for journalists this year, with four deaths, followed by Honduras and Mexico with three each. Two journalists were killed in Thailand, Nigeria, Somalia, Angola, Indonesia, Afghanistan and the Philippines.

Last year, the Philippines was the most dangerous country for journalists, with 33 killed.

“The killing of 42 journalists in 2010, while a decline over previous years, is still unacceptably high and reflective of the pervasive violence journalists confront around the world,” Simon said.

“From Afghanistan to Mexico, Thailand to Russia, the failure of governments to investigate crimes against the press contributes to a climate of impunity that ultimately fuels further violence,” Simon added.

Murder remained the leading cause of death of journalists in 2010, and combat-related cross-fire, suicide bombings and dangerous assignments claimed more lives than in past years, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In Thailand, Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto was killed during a Bangkok protest on April 10.

Nearly 90 percent of the journalists killed in 2010 were local journalists, the group said. Those working mostly for Internet publications constituted a greater proportion of victims this year, with at least six dead, the group added.

A final tally of journalists killed in 2010 is due to be released by the group in January.

Reporting by Basil Katz; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Will Dunham