Killings of Journalists Hit High in 2007

Glenn Kessler
The Washington Post
December 18, 2007

Reprinted with permission from, Newsweek Interactive Company and The Washington Post

The number of journalists killed worldwide spiked to the highest number in more than a decade, with nearly half killed in Iraq, according to an analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based independent organization that compiles information on the deaths of journalists.

After examining reports of journalists killed in direct connection to their work, the committee found that 64 journalists were killed in 2007, up from 56 last year. The death toll was higher only in 1994, when 66 were killed. The committee is still investigating 22 other deaths to determine whether they were work-related.

Iraq was the deadliest place to work, accounting for 31 deaths, with Somalia (seven deaths) the second-most-dangerous country. Twelve media support workers, such as bodyguards and drivers, also died in Iraq, the committee said, noting that since the war began in March 2003, 124 journalists and 49 media workers have been killed.

In all, 24 journalists in Iraq were murdered and seven deaths occurred in combat-related crossfire.

“Working as a journalist in Iraq remains one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet,” the committee’s executive director, Joel Simon, said in a statement. “Members of the press are being hunted down and murdered with alarming regularity. They are abducted at gunpoint and found dead later or shot dead on the spot. Those who die are nearly always Iraqi and many work for international news agencies.”

One of the dead listed by the committee is Washington Post reporter Salih Saif Aldin, 32, who died in Baghdad from a single gunshot wound to the head as he was photographing fire-damaged houses on a street in Baghdad’s southern neighborhood of Sadiyah. He was interviewing residents about violence in the neighborhood between Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents.

Most of the journalists killed in Iraq worked for local media, but nine, including Saif Aldin, worked for international news organizations such as the New York Times, ABC News, Reuters and the Associated Press.

In what the committee called “positive developments,” it said no journalist was murdered in Colombia for the first time in more than 15 years and no Philippine journalist had died a work-related death for the first time in eight years. The committee is still investigating one unconfirmed death in each country.

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