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`More journalists killed last year'

WASHINGTON March 26. The number of journalists killed last year rose by more than a third over 2000, mainly due to the war in Afghanistan, and governments cited security concerns as a reason to attack press freedom, a survey today said.

"The September 11 attacks and the subsequent `war on terrorism' precipitated a press freedom crisis that was global in scope," said the Committee to Protect Journalists in its annual survey of press freedom conditions worldwide.

The survey said 37 reporters were killed as a direct result of their work, a big jump from 2000 when 24 died. Eight journalists, including two from Reuters, were killed while covering the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan.

The majority of journalists, however, were murdered in reprisal for their reporting on sensitive topics, including official crime and corruption in countries such as Bangladesh, China, Thailand and Yugoslavia.

Giving a breakdown of deaths, the survey said three journalists were assassinated in Colombia, one of the world's most dangerous places for reporters.

Two radio reporters died in the Philippines and two were killed in Thailand.

In the United States, a free-lance news photographer was killed while reporting on the attacks on the World Trade Center, while a tabloid photo editor died of anthrax inhalation in Florida soon after the September 11 attacks.

Other countries where journalists were killed in the line of duty were Yugoslavia, Algeria, China, Bangladesh and Haiti. After four years of decline, the number of reporters imprisoned worldwide rose by nearly 50 per cent, to 118 in 2001 from 81 the previous year, the survey said. — Reuters

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