107 reporters killed in Syria since conflict began - report
According to the report by international press freedom group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), deaths in combat or crossfire reached their highest number since 2013, as conflicts in the Middle East showed no sign of ending.
Journalists sent into the thick of the action appear to be at high risk of not only losing their lives, but of being kidnapped and executed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other terrorist groups.
“Islamic State is responsible for the disappearance of at least 11 journalists since 2013. They are feared dead, but do not appear in CPJ’s data on killed journalists because their fate cannot be confirmed,” the report said. It added that the two professions that proved to be the most dangerous in 2016 were those of photographer and cameraman.
Twenty percent of the journalists killed in 2016 were freelancers.
In April, Syrian journalist Zaher al-Shurqat was shot in the head by a masked man in the southern Turkish town of Gaziantep. IS claimed responsibility for the murder, making al-Shurqat the fourth Syrian journalist the group claimed to have killed in Turkey since October 2015, according to CPJ.
At least 48 journalists were killed in relation to their work between January 1 and December 15, 2016, the international press freedom group said.
“More than half of the journalists killed in the year died in combat or crossfire, for the first time since CPJ began keeping records. The conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, and Somalia claimed the lives of 26 journalists who died covering the fighting,” the New York-based group said.
Among those killed by the fighting in Syria this year was 20-year-old photographer and video journalist Osama Jumaa, who died in June while reporting from Aleppo for the international photo agency Images Live.
Iraq proved to be among the “top three most deadly countries for the fourth year in a row,” with six journalists killed in 2016, according to the report.
In Yemen, the number of journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty has also been on the rise as fighting escalated. Six journalists were killed this year, bringing the total to 12 since 2014, CPJ said.
According to CPJ’s detailed records since 1992, about two-thirds of journalists killed are specifically singled out for murder in retaliation for their work. This year, some 18 journalists were targeted directly for murder, the lowest number since 2002.
“The reason for the decline is unclear, and could be a combination of factors including less risk-taking by the media, more efforts to bring global attention to the challenge of combatting impunity, and the use of other means to silence critical journalists,” the report said.
A number of journalists have been risking their lives covering political unrest. At least three reporters died this year covering dangerous assignments, two of them in Pakistan. Mehmood Khan – a cameraman for DawnNews – and Shehzad Ahmed – a cameraman for Aaj TV – were at a hospital in Quetta where a crowd had gathered to grieve the murder of the president of the Baluchistan Bar Association when a powerful bomb killed over 70 people.