NEW YORK, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- More journalists have been killed in 2009 than in any year the Committee to Protect Journalists has been tracking deaths, the group said Thursday.
The total comes to at least 68, and the committee is investigating 20 deaths to determine if they were work-related killings. Fifty of those who died were targeted for their work, 11 were killed covering armed combat and seven died while covering riots or other dangerous situations, the committee said.
"Most of the victims were local reporters covering news in their own communities," said Executive Director Joel Simon. "The perpetrators assumed, based on precedent, that they would never be punished. Whether the killings are in Iraq or the Philippines, in Russia or Mexico, changing this assumption is the key to reducing the death toll."
The high toll is largely because of an ambush on an opposition political convoy in Maguindanao Province in the Philippines. The committee said 29 journalists and two media staffers died in the massacre Nov. 23, making it the largest single killing of journalists since 1992, when it began tracking deaths.
Nine died in Somalia, where Al-Shabaab, a rebel group with ties to al-Qaida, has targeted local reporters and editors.