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2006: journos' year of living dangerously

75 fatalities to date

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2006 has so far proved the "deadliest on record" for journalists worldwide, the Guardian reports.

According to the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), 75 have so far cast off this mortal coil, as compared to 72 during the whole of 2004.

The Iraq conflict accounts for a good percentage of the fatalities, having claimed 26.

WAN chief executive Timothy Balding said: "Journalists in Iraq are not only facing the danger that comes with working in a war zone, they are being hunted down and assassinated simply because they are suspected of cooperating with western news agencies, because of their religious or political affiliation, or because their murderers believe that killing journalists will advance their aims."

Other unhealthy environments for hacks include the Philippines, where "criminal gangs and corrupt politicians target investigative journalists without fear of prosecution", leaving eight dead; and Guyana, where six have died this year.

Balding continued: "Journalism today is more dangerous than ever. More than 500 journalists have been killed in the past decade, often for simply doing their jobs.

"These murders are a direct attack not only on individuals, but also on society as a whole. Yet few of the killers are ever brought to justice." ®

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