2006 proves to be deadly year for journalists, those in media

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BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – The year 2006 was the deadliest for journalists and media workers worldwide, with at least 155 murders and unexplained deaths, the International Federation of Journalists announced Sunday.

The group, representing over half a million journalists in more than 100 countries, said in its annual report that Iraq continued to stand out as the most dangerous place to work, with 68 media staff killed, bringing the total since the war began in March 2003 to 170.

“2006 was the worst year on record, a year of targeting, brutality and continued impunity in the killing of journalists,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said in a statement.

The IFJ also pointed to continuing attacks on journalists in Latin America, where 37 media staff were killed. Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela stood out.

Another 13 journalists died in the Philippines, pushing the total of deaths in Asia up to 34, the IFJ said.

In addition to those murdered, 22 journalists were killed accidentally while on duty, pushing the year’s overall total to 177. In 2005, that number was 154, including 48 Iranian journalists killed in a plane crash.

Amid the bleak statistics, the IFJ saw a hopeful development in the U.N. Security Council’s unanimous approval on Dec. 23 of a resolution condemning attacks that target journalists in armed conflicts.

“It is long overdue,” said White. “This was the only bright spot in a year of unremitting gloom.”

Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah, 35, an Associated Press Television cameraman, was one of the most recent casualties. He was shot dead by insurgents who saw him taping their firefight with police in the northern Iraq city of Mosul on Dec. 12.

The IFJ also pointed to the killing of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow. The federation said over 200 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1993, noting that 40 of the murders since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000 had yet to be satisfactorily resolved.

On Dec. 20, the Committee to Protect Journalists said 84 journalists had died worldwide in 2006. CPJ’s numbers, unlike the IFJ’s, do not include support staff employed by media organizations, such as interpreters and drivers.

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