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Journalist Death Toll in 2003 Put at 36

March 12, 2004|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The number of journalists killed while doing their jobs nearly doubled in 2003 to 36, mainly because of the war in Iraq, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

"Of the 36 journalists killed worldwide because of their work last year, 13 died in Iraq," Ann Cooper, the committee's executive director, said at a Washington news conference to release the group's annual "Attacks on the Press" report.

The worldwide media death toll in 2002 was 19.

War and political violence drew hundreds of journalists to the Middle East in 2003, with the Iraq war one of the most heavily covered conflicts in modern history.

Besides the 13 reporters killed by hostile acts during and after the U.S.-led invasion, several journalists died of illnesses or from accidents.

At least four were killed by U.S. fire, three of them on April 8, when the shelling of Baghdad's Palestine Hotel killed two journalists and an airstrike on the Baghdad bureau of the Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera killed a third. Palestinian Mazen Dana, a Reuters cameraman, died in a separate incident.

Four journalists traveling with U.S. troops were killed by Iraqi fire. Others were killed by land mines or died in suicide bombings.

A Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. military went to "extreme lengths" to attempt to reduce the number of civilian casualties.

Iraq wasn't the only place where journalists were killed. Five were killed in the Philippines for their coverage of corruption or criticism of local officials, the journalists group said. Four died in Colombia, three of them slain for their reporting.

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