2006 worst year on record for journalist casualties: media watchdog

GENEVA, Dec 19, 2006 (AFP) – More journalists were killed in 2006 than any other year, with the war in Iraq still the deadliest conflict for the third consecutive year, a media watchdog group said on Tuesday.

The Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) said that 94 journalists lost their lives in the course of their work in 2006, a rise of 38 percent from the 68 deaths recorded in 2005.

Media casualties in Iraq nearly doubled to 48 from 25 the year previously.

At least 103 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003, making it the deadliest conflict for journalists since the Second World War, the PEC said in a statement.

Eight journalists were killed in Mexico in 2006, without the perpetrators being brought to justice, while four journalists were assasinated in Russia, including the investigative reporter and Kremlin critic Anna Politovskaya.

Four journalists were also killed in both Sri Lanka and the Philippines; three in Pakistan and Colombia; two in China, India, Angola and Lebanon; and one apiece in Ecuador, Venezuela, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Brazil.

PEC secretary general Blaise Lempen said that in the majority of cases journali