Syria most dangerous country for journalists: Watchdog

Residents run to take cover after what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's al-Myassar neighbourhood on April 16, 2014. Syria is the world's most dangerous country for journali
Residents run to take cover after what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's al-Myassar neighbourhood on April 16, 2014. Syria is the world's most dangerous country for journalists, a United States-based watchdog said on Wednesday as it published its annual impunity index tracking unsolved killings of reporters. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Syria is the world's most dangerous country for journalists a United States-based watchdog said on Wednesday as it published its annual impunity index tracking unsolved killings of reporters.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported a "rising number of targeted killings" of reporters in Syria as a recent threat to journalists operating in the war-torn country.

"With unprecedented numbers of abductions and high rates of fatalities in combat and crossfire, Syria was already the world's most dangerous country for journalists," CPJ said.

Iraq remained on top of the rankings with the worst record for solving murders of journalists. Somalia came in second with the Philippines third, the watchdog announced.

Iraq, with 100 per cent impunity in 100 cases, has topped the rankings ever since the survey began in 2008.

Since then, 2012 was the first year that no journalists were killed in relation to their work in Iraq, but 2013 saw a spike to 10 journalist killings, nine of them murders, CPJ said.

There were four new murders in Somalia in 2013.

"Elusive armed insurgent groups have terrorised the media beyond the reach of Somalia's fragile law and order institutions, but authorities have also failed to adequately investigate attacks by other sources," CPJ said.

The Impunity Index calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of a country's population.

Only those countries with five or more unsolved cases are included on the index. This year, 13 countries met the criteria. There were 12 last year, CPJ said.

The watchdog said 96 per cent of victims are local reporters, most of whom covered politics, corruption and war.