December 23, 2014 / 2:18 PM / 3 years ago

Sixty journalists killed in 2014, Mideast deadliest area: watchdog

Associated Press Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carrol (L) speaks during the funeral of German photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus inside Corvey Abbey in Hoexter April 12, 2014.Frank Augstein/Pool

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least 60 journalists were killed globally this year in work-related violence, with the Middle East the deadliest region, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a year-end report on Tuesday.

The 2014 death toll marks a drop from 2013, when 70 journalists were killed, the New York-based watchdog group said. The CPJ is investigating the deaths this year of at least 18 more journalists to see if they are work-related.

Almost half of the journalists killed this year died in the Middle East. Syria was the deadliest country for journalists for the third year in a row, with at least 17 killed there amid a civil war.

Seventy-nine journalists have been killed in Syria since fighting started in 2011, the CPJ said.

The last three years are the deadliest worldwide since the CPJ began documenting journalists' killings in 1992, it said.

Almost a quarter of the journalists killed in 2014 were members of the international press, about twice the proportion CPJ has recorded in recent years, it said.

International correspondents killed included Anja Niedringhaus, an Associated Press photographer shot in Afghanistan in April while covering elections.

A U.S. freelance reporter and a U.S.-Israeli freelancer also were killed by Islamic State militants, who have seized a large swath of Iraq and Syria.

The most common job held by slain journalists was broadcast reporter, at 35 percent, the CPJ said. It was followed by photographer and camera operator, at 27 percent.

The CPJ said it considered a death work-related when its staff is reasonably certain a journalist is killed in reprisal for his or her work, in combat-related crossfire or while carrying out a dangerous assignment.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Bill Trott

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