66 journalists killed in past year as attacks grow more barbaric: report

Artist Isaac Galvan works on a mural in tribute to journalist James Foley in Chicago, Illinois, on Oct 30, 2014. The beheading of James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) highlighted the extreme danger journalists
Artist Isaac Galvan works on a mural in tribute to journalist James Foley in Chicago, Illinois, on Oct 30, 2014. The beheading of James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) highlighted the extreme danger journalists face in covering modern conflicts. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS - Attacks on journalists have grown more barbaric and kidnappings have soared, Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday, after a year when violence against the media took centre stage and 66 reporters were killed.

The beheading of James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) highlighted the extreme danger journalists face in covering modern conflicts.

"Rarely have reporters been murdered with such a barbaric sense of propaganda, shocking the entire world," said Reporters Without Borders in their annual report released Tuesday.

While the overall number of journalists killed around the world was down 7 per cent on 2013, to 66, the nature of some of the killings was of great concern, the Paris-based group said in an annual report.

"The Reporters Without Borders round-up for 2014 highlights an evolution in the nature of violence against journalists and the way certain kinds, including carefully-staged threats and beheadings, are being used for very clear purposes," it said.

The deadliest country for journalists this year was Syria, where 15 were killed, followed by the Palestinian territories, especially Gaza, then eastern Ukraine, Iraq and Libya.

China is the country where most journalists were jailed, followed by Eritrea, Iran, Egypt and Syria, the report found.

The number of journalists kidnapped rose 37 per cent this year to 119, of which 90 per cent were local reporters, with most cases in the Middle East and North Africa.

Some 40 journalists are still being held hostage worldwide.

Due to "diverse forms of intimidation", the report said, twice as many journalists fled into exile this year as in 2013.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE