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Syria and France Were the Deadliest Places for Journalists in 2015

Journalists continue to take huge risks to report the news, with the most killed in Syria and France this year.

A man reads, in a newsroom in Paris, the last issue of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 13, 2015. A defiant Charlie Hebdo cover of a crying Prophet Mohammed above the slogan "All is Forgiven" was reproduced by media around the world on January 13, its first since many of its staff were slain in a jihadi attack that killed 12 people on January 7. This week's post-attack edition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will be made available in six languages including English, Arabic and Turkish. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAY        (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)
A man reads, in a newsroom in Paris, the last issue of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 13, 2015. A defiant Charlie Hebdo cover of a crying Prophet Mohammed above the slogan "All is Forgiven" was reproduced by media around the world on January 13, its first since many of its staff were slain in a jihadi attack that killed 12 people on January 7. This week's post-attack edition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will be made available in six languages including English, Arabic and Turkish. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAY (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

Whether they were assassinated, sent on a dangerous assignment, or killed in combat zone crossfire, 69 journalists died because of their work in 2015. Their deaths are proof that in many parts of the world, journalists are forced to put their lives on the line in order to report the news.

According to a new report released Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists, those who died this year were either killed on the job or in retaliation for their work. For the fourth year in a row, Syria was the deadliest country for journalists, with 13 confirmed killed there in 2015 — five fewer than were killed in the war-torn country last year.

CPJ said that decline is due in large part to decisions by news organizations to stop sending reporters to Syria after 19 were killed there in 2014 and 31 in 2013. But it is also an indication that it has grown increasingly difficult for outsiders to account for deaths that take place in areas controlled by the Islamic State. The journalist advocacy group faced similar challenges in Libya, Iraq, and Yemen, where ongoing violence made it nearly impossible to collect comprehensive information on whether reporters were at risk of being killed. That means the real number of journalists killed this year could actually be higher, and the group is still investigating how 26 others died this year.

Still, 40 percent of the journalists that CPJ confirmed were killed in 2015 died at the hands of extremist groups, including the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. Of the 28 killed by Islamic militant groups, eight of them died after terrorists stormed the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took credit for the attack on the satirical newspaper last January. And in the Nov. 13 attacks carried out by Islamic State terrorists in Paris, a rock critic was killed at the Bataclan concert hall. Those deaths alone made France the second most deadly place in the world for the press after Syria.

CPJ was also able to confirm that at least five journalists were killed per country in Iraq, Brazil, Bangladesh, South Sudan, and Yemen this year. In Bangladesh, the deaths were gruesome, with one publisher and four bloggers either stabbed or hacked to death this year.

In Iraq, the fates of 35 journalists believed to have been killed or held hostage by the Islamic State in Mosul were much harder to verify. According to Tuesday’s report, CPJ could only confirm “a handful” of those deaths because of “the militant group’s stranglehold on information in the city.”

And it’s not only terrorist groups journalists have to be worried about. A third of the killings worldwide were carried out by criminal groups, government officials, or other locals.

At least 110 journalists are imprisoned around the world on specious “anti-state” charges, according to the report. Another 89 are behind bars on various other charges.

As CPJ put it Tuesday, those arrests show “how the press is being squeezed by terrorists on the one hand and by authorities purporting to fight terror on the other.”

Photo Credit: BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

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