Journalist deaths hit 15-yr high: Press watchdog

People lay flowers next to a portrait of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya on the sixth anniversary of her death, at her block of flats in central Moscow Oct 7, 2012.

VIENNA - More journalists have been killed this year while on assignment than at any time in the last 15 years, according to the International Press Institute, a Vienna-based media watchdog.

A total 119 journalists have died so far, IPI's Death Watch survey found, exceeding the number of deaths in any year since it started keeping track in 1997.

The previous highest figure had been 110 deaths in 2009. Last year, 102 journalists were killed.

Syria was the deadliest country for media to operate in this year, with 36 journalists killed there.

This confirmed "the alarming trend, which IPI has witnessed in most conflicts of the past 15 years, in which journalists are targeted to prevent distribution of information," the watchdog said in a statement.

A further 16 were killed in Somalia, while Mexico, Pakistan and the Philippines remained the next most dangerous countries for journalists.

IPI's figures differ from that of other media watchdogs such as Reporters without Borders (RSF), as it includes not just targeted killings but all journalist deaths on the job.

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