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Media Watchdog Says International Journalist Deaths Soared In 2014

A Pakistani journalist holds a sign and a picture of AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed in April in Afghanistan, during a demonstration to condemn attacks against journalists in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says at least 60 journalists have been killed in 2014 in connection with their work.

In a report on December 23, the media watchdog said an "unusually high proportion" of international journalists were killed this year while covering conflicts in places like the Middle East, Ukraine, and Afghanistan.

With at least 17 journalists killed in 2014, Syria remained the world's deadliest country for the third straight year, CPJ said in the report.

Among them were American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, whose beheadings by Islamic State (IS) militants were shown in videos released by the militant group in August and September.

In total, some 79 reporters have been killed in Syria since the country's bloody conflict erupted in 2011.

Of the five reporters and two media workers killed in Ukraine this year, six were international journalists, the New York-based CPJ said.

They were the first journalism-related deaths CPJ has confirmed in Ukraine since 2001.

More than 4,700 people have been killed in a conflict between pro-Russian rebels and government forces in eastern Ukraine since April.

In Afghanistan, Anja Niedringhaus, a German photographer for The Associated Press, was shot dead by a police officer while covering elections in April.

Around a quarter of the journalists killed in 2014 were international correspondents, roughly double the usual proportion, the report said.

However, despite the high casualty rate of international journalists, the report points out that the "overwhelming majority" of journalists at risk for their work around the world continue to be local.

The study found that about nine of every 10 journalists killed are local people covering local stories.

Five journalists have been killed in Iraq this year, including three reporters who lost their lives while covering clashes between government troops and the IS militants.

Three local journalists have been killed in Pakistan this year, a decline from previous years, but violence against reporters persisted.

Pakistani television anchors Hamid Mir and Raza Rumi were serious wounded in separate attacks by gunmen, and Rumi's driver was killed.

CPJ says it is still investigating whether the deaths of at least 18 other journalists this year were related to their work.

With reporting by AFP and AP